I wasn’t going to write a 9/11 post. I figured there was enough written about it already, but then I didn’t expect to feel this way.
I woke up Sunday morning, and watched the coverage of the 9/11 memorial events on television like many others. Tears began to well up in my eyes. Tears that I thought wouldn’t come with ten years between that horrible day and now.
I didn’t know anyone who died on 9/11. I am sad for the families of the victims who lost their lives that day. I am sad for the families of the heroes who lost their lives that day. I am sad for the residents of New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville who’s hometowns were violated that day.
What I mourn personally on 9/11 is the loss of the America I grew up in.
I was 26 years old on September 11th, 2001, married a little over three years, not yet a parent.
At work I watched it all unfold with my co-workers on the TV we normally used to show customers sales videos. We didn’t have live, streaming internet in 2001. When the first plane hit the World Trade Center it was bizarre. When the second plane hit the other tower I remember thinking,”Someone did this intentionally.” It was when third plane hit the Pentagon that I along with many others realized what was really happening.
“We’re under attack,” I thought as my stomach flip-flopped.
I stood there staring at the television trying comprehend the feelings of fear, loss, utter disbelief and something I couldn’t find words for. It was too soon. I couldn’t formulate the thought that morning, but my subconscious knew what I understand now.
America would never be the same.
I grew up in a country that was confident in its place in the world. I grew up in a country that was respected among loyal allies. I grew up in a country that was protector of all, and threatened by none. I grew up in a country where you could be anything you wanted. I grew up in country where personal freedom was its greatest value.
How different from the United States of America in which my children now grow up.
Allies question our right to defend ourselves and the honor of those lost. They distance themselves out of fear they might be next.
I hear fellow Americans blame the attacks on America itself for embracing the very values and truths she was founded on. I hear fellow Americans suggest that our American values are wrong, that America isn’t so great, that perhaps we should step back from our role as a world leader.
We went from protecting others to protecting ourselves. We fight a war with indefinable boarders, and an unforeseeable end. Out of fear we sacrifice freedoms and privacy in the name of safety.
9/11 changed our economy. Now we struggle with massive and debt and unemployment.
The terrorists didn’t win.
You can knock down our buildings, but you can’t knock down the American Spirit. It stands firm.
We are forever changed though.
Like a young soldier who sees battlefield horror for the first time and returns wise to the evil in the world and of his own mortality, so is America in this post 9/11 world.
Innocence was lost. Black and white became black and white and gray. For a decade we’ve danced on a line between security and freedom, fear and courage, justice and revenge, values and means. It’s not an easy dance to master. The Fog of War is real, and this one is murky.
I wish I could return to the less complicated America of September 10th, 2001. I wish my children could grow up in that less complicated America.
We can never go back. We can only move forward. Complicated or not it’s still My America. I miss what she was. I’m proud of who she is. I’m hopeful for what she will be.
And that is why the tears fell yesterday.