Like Americans around the world, I will never forget the horrific images of a plane smashing into the second tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
This was no accident, I thought to myself as I sat glued to the TV that day. America was under attack and would be forever changed.
Ten years later, Americans nationwide will gather and pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 victims that were murdered in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Of these victims, 403 were New York City firefighters and police officers. We will also pay tribute to the brave military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in ensuring that those responsible for the attacks would be brought to justice and that similar attacks would never happen again.
This year is especially poignant for us because of the killing of the mastermind of those attacks, Osama bin Laden. His demise marked a substantial victory against those that want to destroy Western Civilization values. But we know his death is not the end of terrorism or even the beginning of the end.
Our world is much different today than it was on September 11, 2001. We can feel it at the airport standing in security lines. We can hear it on the radio, where the latest bombing in the Middle East or Europe seems to get lost in the jumble of sports and updates on the latest celebrity wedding. We can see it on the news, where almost every other story is about America’s staggering unemployment, political gridlock and financial turmoil.
How did our parents and grandparents get through momentous events like the Great Depression and World War II? I believe the great American ideals of perseverance, faith, and a love of freedom played a major role. It was these values that were reinvigorated ten years ago. I remember seeing the Stars and Stripes being proudly displayed everywhere, neighbors volunteering their time and resources to help the victims, and a people roused with a righteous passion to defeat terrorism no matter the cost.
It was this type of response that led to the Allied victory of World War II, and it is this type of “Greatest Generation” response we need if we are to ultimately triumph over freedom’s enemies. As a nation we can individually respond by participating in the “September 11 Fly the Flag Campaign” where every home, office, and store displays an American flag, no matter how small. We can also wear a flag pin on our clothing and display one on our cars. Not only would this simple act of patriotism honor our country, it would also recall the days immediately after September 11 where we came together not as a member of a race, class or political party, but as Americans.
We must tell our children what September 11 meant to us and how they can help make our country stronger. As Ronald Reagan once said,
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same…”
My desire is for each American to attend a “9-11” event in their community. Let us honor the victims, pray for the continued safety of our troops on the battlefield, and recommit ourselves to defending liberty. As a nation conceived on the idea that all are created equal, we cannot afford to do any less.