September 11, 2021 – It’s been twenty years since our world changed and as today winds down I can’t help but think how difficult this anniversary still must be for the thousands of families who lost loved ones that day. But for the grace of God, what happened that day could have happened to any of us.
Even though my family was not directly touched by the loss of a loved one, we all lost something that day. We once again lost the belief that America was untouchable; a belief that had only been shattered once before on December 7th. Wars and attacks on Americans didn’t happen here on our soil. That was something that happened in foreign countries, or so we thought.
Our sense of security was shattered that day and I for one have not fully regained it. For months if not years after 9/11, the sound of a plane flying low overhead caused a sense of panic. I would hold my breath and wait for the moment I knew the plane had passed by and any perceived danger was gone. It took a long time for that fear to go away and inexplicably, today, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, it was back as a very low flying plane rattled the windows in my house. With no idea what it was or why it was flying so low, I could only hope that there was nothing sinister about the pilot’s actions.
The events of that day and the war that followed have been horrific but looking back, I finally realize that as terrible as it has been, there have been positives to come out of it. While our current climate might lead one to believe otherwise, when pushed Americans will join together as one against our common enemies. National pride rose to a level unseen since World War II after 9/11. Flags were flown in the most unexpected of places for weeks and months. The Pledge of Allegiance took on more meaning and the voices of thousands standing at attention with their hand over their hearts singing the Star Spangled Banner continues to drown out everything else before every sporting event. The men and women first responders who ran into danger rather than away from it became national heroes. The passengers aboard Flight 93, like Minnesota’s own Tom Burnett, Jr., became household names and role models for bravery. Patriotism meant something once again. America truly was the United States of America and people from countries around the world, many whom had lost their own citizens on that fateful day, reached out in support and solidarity against the terrorists who thought they could bring our country to its’ knees.
Today I remembered what I felt that day twenty years ago. I remember the horror, confusion, fear, and sadness, but I also remember joining my fellow employees in a circle around the City Hall flag pole, hands joined together, as we said a silent prayer. I remember the stranger who saw what we were doing as he drove by and jumped out of his car asking to join us. And I remember that as our circle widened to encompass the hands of a fellow American, the sound of our own voices reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with true conviction and pride. None of us knew at that moment what the future would hold for our country, but we knew that we would get through it together with the support of one another. We knew that America truly is beautiful when all Americans pull together to face evil head on as one united country.
For those of you who are too young to have your own memories of that day, it’s unfortunate but true that most likely you will have your own Pearl Harbor or your own 9/11. If you do, please remember the lessons learned by my generation and the generations before me…we are the UNITED States of America and we can come through anything.
I leave you with blessings for all those who have lost their lives in the ongoing war against terrorism. They truly are the heroes we all should strive to be.
Be well my friends.