9/11 retrospective: Land of the Free...Home of the Brave

All I wanted at 7 a.m. on Sept. 11 was to see the weather map as usual right before leaving for work. Instead, I tuned in to the horrific live footage of WTC I burning, and the subsequent explosion inside WTC II. The immediate reruns confirmed my very initial gut reaction – this was no accident. It slowly sunk in that these were much larger than private jets, that at least the second aircraft was of commercial size. Then word came the Pentagon was hit. The United States of America was under attack.

Like most of America, I have been engrossed with the events of the past week. The radio is on at work, the TV at home. We are all aware of the actual events, and we all have our own perspectives of the situation. The range of emotions and comments I have heard are as diverse as the people of the United States, and I am compelled to share my feelings on one comment that disturbed me.

The common thread is that everyone is horrified, saddened and angered by the astounding loss of life, and rightfully so. However, I heard an interview with a young woman the other day in which she referred to not being very patriotic prior to last Tuesday. To me, this comment was unbelievable. Has the youth in America grown up in such a complacent state as to not appreciate what our nation stands for in the world? Do they not understand the loss of life given prior to last week in defense of our freedom and beliefs? Can they understand why the WTC was hit and not, say, Mile High Stadium the night before when 76,000-plus could have died with just one airliner? Can they comprehend that, although tragic, the assault on the Pentagon was secondary to the WTC because the WTC represents all of our strengths and ideals?

Perhaps our youth will at least come to know this: We are the strongest nation in the world in every respect. We are prime targets for those who have the God-given right to disagree with what we stand for, and something like this was bound to happen, as ungodly as it was. I do not minimize the gravity of the events, and I do have my own opinions of what should be done. However, it is the American lives lost in past wars in defense of what we believe to be right and just that has made our enemies just that – enemies. To consider for even a moment, the men and women who have served our country, should be enough to give a deep patriotic feeling to any American, and should inspire young and old alike to stand and face the flag, hand over heart, singing all the words to the Star Spangled Banner.

Because of the magnitude of these attacks on our nation, they will take longer to recover from than other terrorists acts such as the Oklahoma City bombing or the first WTC bombing. We will recover, though. We will emerge an even stronger, more determined and unified nation than ever before. The people who are responsible will be held accountable, as will any government that refuses to cooperate. Most importantly, the people who lost their lives will be remembered in myriad ways, but hopefully most commonly as those as free and as brave as all the other Americans who have given their lives over the past 225 years in the name of freedom and democracy.

Let freedom ring.