I hope you’ll forgive a bit of reflection in place of a true update, an update which is long overdue, and on its way. I’m sure everyone remembers where they were when the heard of the attack. I was a sophomore at Hendricken. I had first period theology class with Ms. Magill. Someone came in late, and asked if anything had happened. Nobody in class knew anything; this was, of course, in the days before smart phones. We heard an announcement over the loudspeaker that a plane had hit the
, it seemed a terrible, but isolated incident. Soon after, changing classes, we sloughed our assigned equations or fractions or radicals, or whatever we were doing in algebra, and watched the coverage. I’m not sure if we were watching when the second plane hit, I know we weren’t when the first did, but the memory of the day is still crystal clear. World Trade Center
I’m currently listening to NPR coverage. I don’t know if I have the stomach to watch television coverage of the attacks. The sympathetic tones of the NPR anchors are helpful for me, as well. Even still, it’s emotional. Listening to some of the stories, reading some of the information at times I’m almost physically ill. Even as I type my face is burning, I don’t know why. Burning as if I were embarrassed. Perhaps I am. This was the first time I realized that
doesn’t have every answer. The first time I realized that there are people and ideologies that hate America , or at least their understanding of it. America
The day was most definitely the most significant day of my life. It was undeniably the most earth-shattering and life changing. I’m humbled listening to the stories of heroism. I’m saddened listening to the stories of tragedy. I’m uplifted hearing the story of the indomitability of the human spirit.
The day is more significant, though, I think. It’s a day for serious reflection. Not only on what it is to be American, but what it was on September 12. We’ve fallen away from the sense of unity that carries us few the scary days after the tragedy. We answered the call as Americans answer every call: heroically. But quickly we moved away from it. We alienated the world and our allies, polarized our politics, and have wrapped ourselves in the flag in a form of nationalistic chest thumping.
The patriotism and optimism innate in being American are wonderful things. We are sons and daughters of an incredible country, and I’m damn proud of it. But, wrapping ourselves in the flag and saying “these colors don’t run” isn’t enough. It’s not enough to be proud of being an American. It’s not enough to fly the flag. Go out and do something. We should witness our patriotism by our actions, in our thoughts, and in our public discourse. We should witness our patriotism by living up to our American ideals. Let’s unify ourselves as a nation, as a people. Saying once a year “never forgotten,” isn’t good enough either. To be honest, I don’t know how to end this. But it’s the life we live day after day. A life we’ve been blessed by grace of God (or (accident of science) to live. Let’s make the most of our opportunity. Let’s not take our world for granted. Remember today: not the destruction, and not the death, and not the fear. Remember the sense of unity that brought us together; E Pluribus Unum made manifest. This tragedy changed our lives, but like the phoenix we have risen, now we must overcome. We must live lives that were worth saving.
I'll get off my soapbox now.
I'll get off my soapbox now.