|I, like most Americans, am still trying to make sense of the events of September 11th. My mind reels with images as vivid as anything I have ever seen on television or heard on the radio. I was driving to work around 6:20 AM on Tuesday, September 11, when I turned on the radio and first heard the broadcaster talk of a plane crashing into the New York World Trade Center. I was stunned when I finally realized that an airplane had been used as a bomb to attack the nerve center of our nation.
Once I arrived at work, a group of my colleagues and I turned on the TV and watched the coverage of the event as it unfolded before our eyes. We soon realized that not only the World Trade Center, but also the Pentagon had been attacked. I watched in horror as (the) smoke and flames bellowed out of the towers, feeling sick for America and my fellow citizens. Empathy welled up in my heart. I felt like this was about as bad as anything could get. Then, right before our eyes, to the horror of everyone in the room, we saw molten steel splattering out of the gapping wounds of the building.
I thought to myself that this must be a terribly hot fire. I must have been thinking out loud because I noticed others nodding in agreement. Then it happened. The tower began to collapse. The news cameras were obviously not expecting this, so while we were watching this horrific event, the broadcasters were talking about something that seemed totally inconsequential. Everyone in the room looked at one another stunned, silently wondering if our eyes were playing tricks on us or if this was some Hollywood movie footage playing on TV. Sadly, it was real!
The events of September 11, 2001 were the most tragic I have ever witnessed on live TV in my life. As the day unfolded, each American witnessed more of this tragedy than we probably have ever seen in any act of war. We were not watching some epic reenactment of this event. It was being broadcast live to our homes and businesses, second by second, minute by gruesome minute. I hope that Americans, and our global compatriots for that matter, never have to endure this type of senseless loss of life again. Yet, we cannot assume this to be the case.
The events of the past few days have helped me to understand a few things about myself and what America is all about. I will share my thoughts with you.
I realize that the Eastern United States, a part of our country that I felt was a world apart from mainstream America, has so many wonderful people, many of whom are flag-waving, hard-working, loving, caring, citizens of the United States of America.
I know that faith in God is alive and well in this country, from our leadership to the average citizen.
I have learned that despite all of our differences, Americans still have the capacity to love our neighbors as ourselves. Some of our citizens have shown that they are willing to sacrifice the supreme cost of their own life for the preservation of their fellow Americans.
I finally understand why America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is our love for life and the inherent goodness of each citizen and their willingness to do their part without being forced to do so by our government.
I understand how Americans must have felt as they heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The American spirit is just as alive today as it was when we were dealt that vicious blow at Pearl Harbor. The brutal attack of September 11, 2001 will not break us, but will strengthen our dedication to freedom and justice.
I have witnessed American politicians unite and act as a government of the people. When given the opportunity, politicians show us that leadership is a cultivated behavior not an exercise in abusing the power and trust of their constituents.
I have seen our nation rally to support our president, despite his narrow margin of victory in last year's election. During this crisis, our nation and its people, through our president, have found our resolve. He has expressed the sentiments of this nation by stating to the terrorists and to the world, that we have drawn our line in the sand, and that we will not allow tyranny and terrorism to stand. This event was not a victory for terrorism, but rather, the beginning of its end.
I have learned that being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of your life, or the life of a loved one, is the cost of liberty. As I face the thought of my twenty-year-old son defending freedom, I understand the terrible price that may be asked of each of us in order to preserve our precious freedom for the future generations of Americans. I understand the price paid by previous generations of Americans who have allowed me to be free my entire life.
I Love America, its constitution, its system of government, and its citizens far more than I realized.
I have learned that there are good and bad people of every sect, creed, and nation, and that you cannot classify a person by his origin of birth, but must judge them by their actions.
I now pray more fervently that God will bless America, and that all the citizens of the world can experience the freedoms we enjoy in America. I sincerely hope that each of us will reflect on America, what a great country we live in, and stand a little taller and more resolutely as we do our part to make a difference for this great nation and the world.
The flag of the United States of America displayed on overpasses, cars, businesses, and homes causes an inner emotion and pride to swell within me, making me proud to call myself, and fellow San Diegans patriotic Americans.
I have rediscovered that many of the virtues that I thought had vanished from the hearts and souls of our society, like service to others, caring, compassion, empathy, faith, and love, really do live and thrive in the hearts of most Americans.
These tragic events of September 11 have taught me more about the character of my fellow Americans than most other things I have experienced as a citizen of this great nation. It seems to be an inevitable truth of life that we learn and grow from hard times far more than we do in moments where every thing is going well.
It is my hope that each American will nourish the cause of liberty.
Our forefathers have planted a beautiful tree called Liberty; it is planted in the sod of a Republic, nourished by the ideals of our constitution, protected by the blood and sweat of our ancestors. Previous wars and turmoil have not dimmed the strength of her branches. May each of us do our part to nourish the Tree of Liberty, so future generations can enjoy her beauty and taste the wonderful fruit that she bears.
May God bless America and all Americans!