Every year on this day I pause what I’m doing and stop to reflect. September 11th was a sad day in American history, yet it was also a day that brought the citizens of this country together. We watched in horror together, cried together, and mourned together.
I was in a classroom full of 22 Kindergarteners on that day, teaching and carrying on with my usual routine, completely oblivious to what was happening. I remember the office staff coming to my room to pick up children who were going home early and thinking to myself, what is going on? Why are all of my students leaving? By the end of the school day, I was down to 8 kids. No one was saying anything, not even my family had contacted me to tell me what was going on. It wasn’t until the last child was picked up by their parents when I found out what had happened.
My heart sank to the floor. Almost instantly tears flooded my eyes and my hands began to shake. Someone attacked us on American soil?
At that point, the first thing that came to my mind was my daughter, who was living in Pennsylvania at the time. The fact that I hadn’t heard anything from her or anyone else in that area all day, I imagined the worst. It was a relief to hear her voice and know she was alright.
My second thought was, who could do such a thing, and why? I know Americans are not always the most popular people in the eyes of the world, but we’re human just like everyone else. We have families and jobs. We fall in love and have fears. We celebrate joy and make mistakes, just like every human being on this planet does. But innocent lives were lost, American lives, lives of my fellow countrymen–wives, husbands, sons, daughters, uncles, and aunts. People carrying on with their day, trying to earn a living, trying to contribute to society, trying to make the world a better place. What did any of these people do to deserve this?
The event was intended to rip this country apart, but in reality, it had the opposite effect. People came from all over the country, sacrificing their own lives to help their fellow Americans. Police officers, fire fighters, military, and ordinary citizens did whatever they could to help those in need during this tragedy. Images of these heroes still plaster news feeds and social media pages. These brave men and women will always be heroes in the eyes of Americans.
American flags flew higher than ever, showing the world that America was indivisible. Despite everything that had happened, the flag was still there. That star spangled banner still waved proudly, freedom still rang, and America still held strong.
Although tragic (tears still fill my eyes when I think back on this day), every year on 9-11, we celebrate the heroes, mourn losses of loved ones and fellow countrymen, and never forget the people and ideals that make this country great. A flag will fly high in front of my house today and every day, not only to celebrate the fact that I’m an American, but to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.