Fifteen years have passed since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Fifteen years have gone by since our nation, and the world, stood by helplessly and watched as planes hit the two World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and the fourth plane, destined for the White House, crashed in a Pennsylvanian field.
Our world has changed since that moment in time. None of us were ever the same after that day. The world as we knew it was gone forever, never to return.
This year is the first time since the events on 9/11 that high school students will learn about the attacks as a historical event they were not alive to witness. These children have no idea what life was like before the attacks; no idea how much has changed and how much has been lost. A post-9/11 world is all they know.
And what do they see?
Athletes sitting for the national anthem. College students demanding “safe spaces.” Gender neutral language so as not to offend anyone. Protestors in the streets, burning down businesses and destroying cities all in the name of “Black Lives Matter.” People in the streets burning the American flag and disrespecting those who give their lives for our freedom.
What has become of our nation? What has become of our people?
Every year on the anniversary of September 11, I take the time to re-watch the documentaries and listen to the stories all over again. I believe it’s an important part to never forgetting. This year, as I watched “15 Septembers Later,” I saw a clip of President Bush visiting Ground Zero. As he stood on top of the wreckage of a fire truck and rallied the spirits of first responders and rescue crews, he bellowed into his bullhorn, “I hear you! And the people who did this will soon hear all of us!”
As he said this, the people at Ground Zero erupted into thunderous chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”
In the days following 9/11, people all around the nation were proud to be American. I remember that an unquenchable spirit of patriotism swept the nation. I even remember french fries being called “patriot fries” for a time. Everywhere you looked our rallying cry was “God bless America” and we were proud to be American.
But I fear those days have passed.
Young people today are growing more and more apathetic towards our nation; towards anything that doesn’t directly involve them. They don’t know or don’t remember what it was like on that day — when the world went from being a safe place of innocence to one where terrorism is daily threat.
They don’t want to vote. They don’t want to be informed about our nation or the world. Or they only want to vote to get free stuff and get a free ride from the government. Many of them don’t even identify themselves as Americans; they don’t want to be American anymore.
We, as a nation, have lost sight of how incredibly blessed we are to be American. To have the freedoms we have and to live in a nation where you can be anything you want to be. And as we lost sight of and began to take our freedoms and blessings for granted, we lost sight of our Creator who gave us these blessings. And in turn, we taught our children that mindset. That is what we have made our legacy.
If there’s anything the attacks on September 11, 2001, showed us, its that life is precious. Today, as we reflect on the sacrifice and horrors of that day, take time to reflect on your own life. What is your legacy? What will you be remembered for? What will you do to make the world a better place? What will you pass on to the next generation? What will your message to the world be?
We can’t do a disservice to all who gave their lives that day and in the days that followed by giving up our freedoms. By not protecting and defending the rights we have. By becoming apathetic or embarrassed to be American, we allow all those who wish to destroy and eradicate freedom around the world the upper hand. We make it easy for them because we destroy our own freedoms ourselves.
We vowed on that day to never forget. I pray we never do.