I remember sitting in my 9th grade English class when another teacher walked in to talk to my teacher. They turned on the TV but I only caught a brief glimpse of what was happening and quickly turned it off again. What I saw was that plane had flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was on fire. At first I thought they were coincidences. A plane once accidentally flew into the Empire State Building and I thought this was a similar occurrence and I thought the Pentagon’s fire was just a fire. It was only when my class went to take our pictures did I find out what had really happened and that other classes just watched the news all morning. I went to my next class hoping to see the news but that teacher didn’t. In fact none of the teachers I had that day let us watch the world changing events that were unfolding. As someone who has always stayed attuned to current events I was frustrated not being able to know what was actually happening and would have to wait until after football practice to watch the news. I remember being at practice and my coach remarking that it was weird to look up and not being able to see planes traveling across the sky. I looked up into the cloudless sky and thought how eerie it truly was.
When I got home and was finally able to watch the horrors that unfolded that day nine years ago I knew the world wouldn’t be the same and it hasn’t. That day has changed us as a country and a people. It was a defining moment in our history.
We were attacked by cowards who hate our way of life. They hate the God given freedom we have while saying they did what they did in the name of God. They are a ruthless, faceless enemy who refuse to fight in the open. They hide behind women and children as they try to kill those trying to bring the world freedom. They blow themselves up, killing indiscriminately in the name of a warped and twisted ideology which is in direct contradiction to the faith they claim to be following. There can be no compromising with them because they refuse to do so. We are in an all-or-nothing fight and cannot let up and cannot forget who and what we are dealing with. If we do, all will be lost. This will be a long battle but we must not give up. We must always remember who and what we are fighting for. It will give us the strength we need to win. Good will prevail.
More than anything though, I remember those innocent people who died that clear September day. I remember the courageous souls who ran into those burning towers, not once considering their personal safety. I remember those who on Flight 93 took matters into their own hands and who were the first to show those cowards what a free people do when they come face-to-face with evil. They went down with the terrorists in that fight but in sacrificing their own lives they undoubtedly save the lives of others. I remember those who have sacrificed so much to go overseas to fight to protect our freedom here and to bring it to those who have never known it. I remember and thank those who came back maimed from the war, a sacrifice permanently etched into their bodies. And I remember those who never made it back…
And I will never forget.