Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001 when terrorists attacked the United States?
I personally don't. I was only 4 at the time and have no recollection of the day. I grew up learning about the 9/11 attacks in school and from my family and saw a few pictures of the burning World Trade Center. But I can't even imagine the horror of experiencing 9/11 in person.
Last week, I visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum for the first time. As I walked through the exhibits, I saw a plethora of pictures and recordings from that terrible morning. I saw fragments of fire helmets and fire trucks used by extraordinarily brave Americans to help rescue as many people as possibly that morning. I saw videos of people jumping from the tops of buildings and family members sobbing.
The experience was both heart-breaking and mind-opening. Prior to visiting the memorial, I failed to grasp the magnitude of human life lost that day. I hadn't considered that the streets of New York that I walk each day were once streets filled with dust and rubble from burning buildings.
Even though I don't personally know anyone who was killed on 9/11 and I don't remember the events of the day, I do believe that American millennials should never forget that 9/11 happened. Each year, we get farther away from 2001. But the significance of the attacks has not diminished.
Millennials should always remember that they are blessed with an incredible privilege in living in America. This country grants freedoms that are unheard of for many other nation's citizens. But this freedom also makes the U.S. an enemy to other countries and ideologies. Because of our free market, our freedom of speech, and our freedom of religion, we were targets on 9/11. And we still are today.
Cliche as it sounds, we are the future. We will be the ones who have to fight terrorism in the global age. It is essential for millennials to remember the pain that America experienced in 2001. We need to be informed and sharpened about history so that we can effectively combat Islamic terrorism. It is a problem that has only grown since 9/11 and is not going away anytime soon.
So millennials, let's not forget to be grateful for our freedom. And let's never forget the price that many Americans paid for it.