I was in third grade when the towers collapsed. I don’t remember much- I remember knowing something was wrong, but not wanting to ask. I remember not getting my afternoon snack from my grandmother, and having the TV on. I remember asking her what was wrong, and having her tell me that New York had been bombed. I remember coming home with my mom and dad, and watching the TV all night long. I remember how pretty it was outside. How I wanted to go play, to try a new game, but how I didn’t because I knew, deep in my heart, that if I did I would be doing something terrible. What? I didn’t know. I just knew that doing anything other than standing in front of that TV watching those towers fall and those people cry and those firefighters choke on the ashes of the dead and pretending that I was truly sad, too, would be doing something terrible. Most of all, I remember confusion.
But on this tenth anniversary, I am anything but confused. I know what happened, and why, and how. I know who did this, and I watched three months ago when that man was killed, and I watched when the second-in-command was killed. And today, I watched as the entire country willingly fell to its knees to remember what I never could. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen. I don’t cry often, and I was in tears more than once today.
But today also, I was so happy. I was happy because I watched America come together as one, once again. Lately, our country has been rife with discontent, with trivial concerns that have magnified our problems tenfold. Worrying about right and wrong, about holding out so that one party doesn’t have to compromise over the other. About holding so close to our morals that we can’t work together for any kind of compromise. Today, America wasn’t about that. Today wasn’t about the economy, or global policy, or politics, or right wing versus left wing versus tea party. Today was about America, about being one “us” rather than 700 million “me’s.”
I watched the NFL games today, and saw how the crowds chanted in unison the words, “USA, USA, USA!” How the citizens didn’t leave until the very end of the game; how the crowd cheered so loudly when the guy singing the national anthem held out the words “brave” and “free” many measures more than would have been necessary at any other time, and the crowd still wanted more. I watched the commercials commemorating the day, commercials that weren’t there for mere publicity but were there as a way to say that yes, this happened, but we have overcome. Yes, this happened, but let me show you what we have achieved; how we have revived, how we have succeeded, how we have conquered. A way to tangibly say: we have survived.
I love America, and today America loved America more than she has in ten years. Every day should be like this- not just once every decade.