There are very few days in a person’s life where you can list the date and they know exactly where they were and what they were doing.
September 11th, 2001.
I was 5 years old. My Grandpa was with me and we were bringing my Mom a treat at work during her morning prep time. I can still picture the TV hanging in the corner of her classroom. The kind with the big back that was strapped in so it wouldn’t fall, the kind only the '90s kids will remember anymore. It was sunny out that day but the air was cool. Being five I didn’t know what any of it meant, but even at a young five years old nothing could erase the memory of watching the second plane go into the World Trade Center. It was like the world stood still for a moment and everyone just watched in disbelief.
You would never believe that one day could define the way someone grows up, but it can. Any school age child on that day got something a little different along the way in life. They grew up with war in the Middle East. Threats to blow up America. Terrorists stealing planes. A steady flow of troop deployment. They got to grow up in an America that fears people it doesn’t know to be trying to ruin them. They got the America that had to stand up and prove itself once more. But they also got the America that came back, rose in spirit and gathered behind a cause.
Looking back and having been the little kid the day America was attacked, talk of terrorism has become almost normal. Seeing the news plastered with war, hatred and more death is to be expected now. But growing up with this has taught so many more lessons than just how to stop terrorists. It has proven the point that no matter how great you are, you will never be everyone’s friend. You will always have someone against you but you can still continue to be great in the face of hatred. Stand up tall and handle things as they come. Don’t sugar coat things, tell it like it is but also tell people what you’re going to do about it. But most importantly don’t be all talk. Back up your words with your actions otherwise people are going to call your bluff.
Having been a 9/11 kindergartener wasn’t all horrible. I got to see an America who picked up, dedicated, honored and rebuilt. I got to see an America of heroes. All the men and women who ran in as everyone else was running away, the people who stayed day and night to try to pull survivors from the wreckage, the strangers helping each other get to safety. The United States sometimes feels like a mixture of strangers, of complete opposite people going in their own ways, but we are united. It is there and I have seen it.
15 Septembers ago this nation proved that we are strong, hard working and truly united. We will continue to honor and we will never forget the fallen heroes from the day America stood still.