Never Forget

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.

Never forget.

Stand Up

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“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  -Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

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Independence Day.  The day of barbecues, baseball, pool parties, and fireworks.  The day people hang the American flag on the front porch (although we have a flag raised in front of our house almost daily.)  The day the United States of America declared its independence.  Our nation’s birthday.

IST-IS162RM-00000177-001Those famous words written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” still hold true today.  The life, liberty, and freedoms we posses today were made possible by our founding fathers and held together by our democratic government and the brave men and women of our armed forces.

Now, I know our nation isn’t perfect.  What nation is?  Many people complain about the government, taxes, the state of education, health care, the military, etc…  But when you think about where we started as a nation, we have come a long way.  “All men are created equal.”  Thomas Jefferson said it.  Abraham Lincoln said it.  Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died for it.  Our military fights to defend it.  Our nation was founded on those words, and to this day Americans have the freedom to live life and pursue happiness because of those words.

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2014_0607Gettysburg0009I had the incredible experience last summer to stand in the exact location where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech.  It was moving, to say the least.  Standing in the Gettysburg National Cemetery, looking over the battlefield, and thinking about all of those men who sacrificed their lives to keep our great nation united, gave me chills.  Those men believed in the unity of our nation, they believed in the flag and the freedom it represented, and they “gave their lives” to defend it so “that nation might live.”

Our military men and women make sacrifices daily.  They are brave individuals who are willing to pay the ultimate price to defend our flag and the country it stands for.  My husband served in the U.S. Army, the 82ndfe9021d24cfa18f73d105beec239f5f4 Airborne division to be exact.  He served in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and the Panama Invasion.  Luckily, he didn’t have to pay the ultimate sacrifice.  Other military men and women are not so lucky.  But it is because of their sacrifice that we continue to live in a country that allows us the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  In the words of Lincoln, “never forget what they did [and] highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

0c2843e5249e84013b82a9b667bc9799Independence Day is the day to celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the freedom it provided.  It’s a day to reflect on the work this nation still has to do to ensure that all men are created equal.  I, for one, am proud to live in this country.  I’m proud to fly the U.S. flag.  I stand with my hand on my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I stand and pay respect during the presentation of the colors.  I proudly sing the National Anthem.

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I stand up as you’re waving in flight,

With your stripes so bold

And your stars so bright.

As you rise and flash your red, white, and blue,

You’re the symbol of freedom,

I stand up for you.

In the words of Lee Geenwood’s song , God Bless the USA, “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.  And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the USA.”

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Happy 4th of July, America!  Celebrate with your families.  Eat hot dogs, watch baseball, and enjoy fireworks, but please do not forget the meaning of Independence Day. Today we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, not only for what it accomplished, but for what it still challenges us to do.  I am proud to be an American, proud to fly the flag, proud to live in this great country of ours, a country “of the people, by the people, for the people,” and we “shall not perish from this earth.”

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