9/11

“I miss 9/12. I would never want another 9/11, but I miss the America of 9/12. Stores ran out of flags to sell because they were being flown everywhere. People were Americans before they were upper/lower class, Jewish/Christian, Republican/Democrat. We hugged people without caring of they ate Chic-Fil-A or wore Nikes.

On 9/12, what mattered more to us was what united us, not what divided us.”

Elizabeth S. Gray.

You talk to anyone who was old enough on September 11th 2001 to have a memory from that day and I guarantee they can recite where they were when it happened. The terror attacks that took place on that day altered the history of not only the United States but the world.

A simple date, 9/11, became a synonym for terror. There would be attacks after that fateful date around the world that would be refered to as a country’s “own 9/11.” Even up to this day, pundits and terror experts alike ask themselves if there could be “another 9/11”.

The world changed on that fateful day. While the attacks were targeted at the United States, the repercussions were felt around the world. Air travel is drastically different now than prior to the attacks. Law enforcement now has procedures and response in how to deal with terror attacks. Our intelligence community seemingly works on a continuous basis identifying the next threatening terror cell. We work with partner nations that have terror cells operating within their borders, helping teach them tactics to deal with them.

American soldiers conducting a foot patrol in Afghanistan.

The conflict in Afghanistan, which started as a response to the 9/11 attacks, will hit it’s 18th anniversary this October. That means that there are individuals entering the military and potentially going to Afghanistan who were born the year 9/11 happened. They grew up in a post 9/11 world, they know no different. They are going to serve in a war that is as old as they are. That is truly jaw dropping, and shows the breadth of fighting Islamic Radicals.

I was a sophomore in high school when the attacks happened. I remember hearing about the “bombings in New York”. Classes that day were suspended, as we listened to radio reports and watched news reports covering it. When I went home, it was silent outside. No aircraft passing overhead. Everyone seemed to be staying home, huddled around the television watching the coverage. The feeling permeating the area was one of sadness. Everything seemed still and quiet.

I went into our garage because I remembered we had some small flags left over from Memorial Day when the American Legion Post put them out. I grabbed them and the flag we had for the hook on the front of our house. I hung the big flag up and placed the small flags in our yard along the roadway. I felt I had to do something, and this was my contribution. After I finished that, I noticed other houses hanging their flags as well. Soon the whole street had houses with flags hanging off of them.

Aside from the violence of the day, this is the other major memory I have. The flood of patriotism that swept the nation after the attacks is something I am happy to have witnessed in my life. It seemed like everyone was friendly to each other, neighbors looking out for neighbors. I would never want the horrors of that day, however the patriotism that swept through the nation is something I wish we could experience again. I haven’t seen anything like it since, given all that has happened in this country.

We as a people have lost our sense of patriotism and pride in our nation. For some reason, being prideful of our nation is looked down upon. Maybe it is war weariness, however our society as a whole has been removed from war and it’s effects. Our military has carried the load for that, carrying that burden on behalf of the American people. Our society has broken up into groups, identifying more with their group than as Americans.

9/11 has faded into memory, seemingly not as impactful as it once had been. I wonder if the Greatest Generation felt the same way 18 years after Pearl Harbor. Granted we were not still involved in the war that resulted from Pearl Harbor, but I wonder if the generation that fought that war noticed the lack of patriotism and understanding of the events of that day like I feel about 9/11 today. Our way of life was attacked, and still is under attack by those that loath everything that makes America what it is. I hope the lessons we have learned in the last 18 years, the sacrifices made by those who gave their lives and those whose loved ones died were not given up in vain. As Americans we should always remember what it felt like to have our nation rocked by such violence. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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