I stare at my white screen as I wonder what to write. For those who know me, this is surprising, I normally have to be told to shut-up, not asked questions to get me talking. But somehow the horrors of that day, the highest lost of lives on American soil in one day since the battle of Antietam in the Civil War, puts me at a lose for words.
For me, and I think I'm safe to say all old enough to clearly remember that day ten years ago, it seems as if it were yesterday. We will never forgot where we were or what we were doing when we first found out. Me? It was about 8:30am in the morning Pacific Time when our neighbor called to tell us the news. I had just finished working out with my mother and we quickly got our little tiny TV and put it on the top floor of our home, next to the only window that the bunny ears would get reception from in rural Idaho. Like most Americans, we were glued to the TV. It was several days before we no longer had it turned on 24/7. That night from the White House, defying the terrorists themselves and portraying the strength of Americans, President Bush address the American people.
I was 15 years old at the time but will never forgot the images coming through on the TV screen. It was seared into my memory and seems like it can't have been ten years. A few weeks ago at church, the speaker was referencing Pearl Harbor, and the little girl sitting next to me leaned over, whispering, asked me what Pearl Harbor was. In an instant I responded that it was when the Japanese attacked to the US to begin WWII and that it was kind of like September 11. Then it struck me, she's only about seven or eight, she was not born ten years ago.
It was amazing to watch as not just Americans pulled together following the attacks, but the world came behind us too. It was seen in so many aspects of life, from politics to sports. People either love or hate the New York Yankees, but that fall the Yankees were America's team, everyone rooted for them. Sports, particularly baseball, was a relief from all the pain.
This is a clip from one of my favorite documentaries, "Nine Innings From Ground Zero," showing President Bush's first pitch in New York during the 2001 World Series.
We are Americans and as we have done so many times, we rallied, we came behind our troops, we were proud to be an America, to chant USA, to sing God Bless America. There were memorial services all across the country. A few days following the attacks, President Bush visited Ground Zero and spoke words that were so true...
The following month, October, the rest of the world did hear us as we attacked Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan. It took us 9 1/2 years but we finally did get him, thanks to months of intelligence and the US Navy Seals.
The following March (2002), I remember driving through New York City at night and seeing the blue lights which outlined where the two buildings had stood as they reached into the sky as far as the eye could see, and Lady Liberty keeping watch as she has for so many years. The Empire State Building stood there as the tallest building now in the skyline outlined in red, white, and blue.
Looking back ten years later, we're strong, we've done good--no more attacks on our soil. The bad thing about this? Many people have forgotten the horrors of that clear, blue, cloudless day, the reasons we are fighting for. Yet, that is also the proof we are strong, Americans have gone back to their life, a few minor inconveniences (like when we fly), but overall life has returned to normal. And this is a very good thing.
This weekend there will be many memorial services across the country, but one in particular I want to share. The one in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where President Bush spoke.
We just never can forget. Forget the innocent men and women who died, forget the brave rescue workers who ran into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon to save lives, forget the courageous passengers of Flight 93 who saved numerous more lives, forget the soldiers fighting oversees, forget the images of that day. NEVER FORGET!!!
So many amazing terrific patriotic country songs have been written, both before and after September 11. I can't just post them all (ok, I could, but you might not want to hear them all), and so I had to choose, narrow it down. There would Billy Ray Cyrus' "Some Gave All," or Alan Jackson's "Where Were You," or Toby Keith's "American Soldier," or Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," or Trace Atkins "Arlington," or maybe Darryl Worley's "I Just Came Back From A War" or many more. But it came down to two Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," and Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten." I couldn't chose which one so here are both. They speak volumes about that day and America's strength and resilience.
I am proud to call myself an American and I will always remember that freedom isn't free, I will never forgot.
Todd Beamer, Flight 93