Should we really call this day a "holiday?" When I think of the word "holiday," memories of fun days out of school, presents, parades, and joyful celebrations come to mind.
No, today is not a holiday. Today is a day of remembrance. Today is a day that is forever etched in our hearts. A day like no other; one that has left a deep and painful scar. Most days we can ignore it. It's in the back of our memories, filed away with unpleasant things like a painful trip to the dentist or losing a job. We just don't think about them on a daily basis. Why would we? They are not something we like to dwell on. Those memories hurt.
At the same time, September 11th is painful in ways a trip to the dentist or losing a job never could be. The pain is deeper, much more personal. It hurts alongside our deep sense of patriotism. We take our freedoms for granted. September 11th reminds us that we should never take those precious freedoms for granted. We are a country who found ourselves united in common horror at the events that unfolded that day. How could this happen in the land of the free, the home of the brave? What kind of people would do this to our country? To the thousands of people who went to work that day as if it was a day like any other? Today I think of their families. The thousands upon thousands of tears that have been shed; the hole in their hearts because of missing loved ones who should not have lost their lives in such a way.
We try really hard not to dwell on the events of September 11th, 2001 because our hearts grieve. We may not know someone personally who lost their life, but we are each deeply effected. Today I am going to let my guard down and let the pain in. Today I am going to shed a tear as I remember the events of September 11th, 2001 as if it were yesterday. Today I am going to remember the shock, the horror, and the devastation I felt as I realized the panic that the Americans of New York were experiencing. Today I will be especially grateful for the service men & women who willingly risk their lives for the freedoms I take for granted every single day. Today I will resolve to not bury the painful memories of September 11th so deeply in my heart. Today I will hug my children a little tighter, be a little kinder, and remember that we live in a great country - the greatest in the world - one that was forever changed seven years ago. I will teach my children to value the land in which they live. To honor the memory of those whose lives were so viciously ripped from them by the horrific events of September 11th, 2001.
I remember that day... I was on my way to work. I worked as nanny about an hour's drive from my house. My 3 year old daughter was sitting in the back seat and we were about halfway there when I turned on the radio. I was at a stoplight waiting to turn left. When the light turned green, I had a hard time putting my foot on the gas pedal. It felt like a bad dream. I was waiting for someone to come on the radio and say that it wasn't really happening. How could it be happening? We lived in the United States of America. Things like that didn't happen here, did they?
Once I got to the home where I worked, we sat glued to the television for hours. No one left the house that day. We tried to explain what was happening to our little girls, but they were oblivious, happy in their ignorance to what was going on on the other side of the country. For days it felt like I was walking around in a terrible nightmare. It hadn't really happened like that, had it?
What occurred in the days that followed was our country's way of coping with the shock and devastation. Thousands of American flags were everywhere. We had one hanging from our front porch, one in the back window of our car, and one hanging inside the front window of our house. Stores were selling out of American flags faster than they could get them in. Yet, as the weeks and months passed, American flags seemed to fade from the forefront. We buried our painful memories of that day and put the flags away. We didn't want to remember. It hurt too much.
Eight years have passed since that day. Eight years. It's hard to believe it's been that long. At the same time, it feels like an eternity ago. So much has changed. And so much hasn't. Today I challenge everyone reading this to hang an American flag. Remember. Hang a flag outside of your home. On your car window. Even on your blog. Anywhere to show that you remember. You remember how precious our freedoms are. You remember the everyday heroes that are our American soldiers that fight for and defend our treasured freedoms all over the world. You say, to the world,
"We will never forget."
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