Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Social media plays a big part in all of our lives. It takes a little longer to scroll through your Facebook news feed on days like today.  Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers - often post in remembrance. Each and every post makes you reflect. Reflect on where you were, the way it changed you, and the way it changed our country. It's the one day we can all relate to one another. 

Two specific posts hit home to me today:

1. This photo.

A famous John Lennon song, asking us to imagine a place where the things that divide people didn't exist. Yet in this context, on this photo, it made me think of all of the nearly 3,000 innocent lives lost and where they are today. Living life in peace, away from all the suffering still going on in our world, away from all the sadness, and enjoying what we have yet to discover. That's pretty powerful.

2.  This quote: "Be an American on all days, not just the ones where bad things happen." - from a friend who served in the United States Army, post September 11th.

I am proud and thankful to be an American every single day that I wake up. I might not express it aloud, or in prayer, or on social media outlets, but I am. I think we could all try harder at consciously expressing our appreciation. It could be a simple "pay it forward" action, or thanking the man in the military uniform standing beside you at baggage claim, or waving an American flag in front of your house, or voicing your opinion for something you believe in. There is always going to be tragedy, loss, suffering, pain and heartache - even in America - but it shouldn't have taken an act of terrorism, for our generation to understand and appreciate our country and where we came from. It's something we should do daily.

In reply to the "Where were you" posts:

I was a sophomore at Bishop Guilfoyle High School, sitting in second period Religion class, when the principal came on the loud speaker announcing that two airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center. America was under attack. By the third period, every single television in the school was on. The halls were silent, except for the shuffle of penny loafers on the tile and the occasional slam of a locker door. Some students left early. Some had family members that worked at the WTC. Some parents simply wanted to have their children at home. We were 302 miles from the first attack, 179 miles from the Pentagon, 60 miles from the crash in Shanksville, PA and yet, the images repeated on every news station made it feel like it was just outside our window. In fact, it still feels that way twelve years later, when you watch the footage.

Terrorism. I had barely heard the word. I am not sure I had ever used it in my vocabulary. I thought war was only in my history books. And certainly not in America. I was young, naive and sheltered. I specifically remember all of my emotions. Panic that something bigger was going to happen. Fear of the unknown. And sadness for all the men, women and children directly affected by the tragedies that day. When I got home from school I called the smartest man I knew - my grandfather. He fought in World War II and if anyone was going to give me some kind of clarity about this act of terror, he was my trusted source. Typically when you called my grandparents house, my grandfather would hand the phone to my grandma, before he even knew which grandchild was one the other end. That day was different. We talked for almost 30 minutes. He didn't know much more than me. No one did. But his experience and wisdom, calmed my fears. Often times we don't have all the answers and we don't know what tomorrow will bring, but my grandfather helped me understand the meaning behind terrorism and what it meant to be an American that day. Sometimes understanding is all we need.

As the days, weeks and months passed, we slowly began to rebuild. The feelings of panic and fear were replaced with strength and hope. The images of the plane crashes were replaced with stories of heroism and survival. However, the sadness of that day has never been forgotten.

United we stand. I am proud to be an American - yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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