Never forget Sept. 11, 2001


I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom in 2001 not knowing the impact that a single day could make on this country or the world. I sat there with no idea that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center in New York, what terrorists were or even that the twin towers existed.

The staff at my school decided not to tell the students about the tragedy, so when I met my mom after school, she told me what had happened. I didn’t understand the meaning or impact of anything she was telling me. I just knew it was bad by the tone of her voice. I left school that day with so many questions about the attacks, and when I got home, I was able to watch the video footage on the news to understand it a little better.

I remember lining up at the gas station along with what seemed like a million other cars because many people thought this tragedy would cause a giant increase in the price of gasoline. I also remember seeing the news footage of the attacks on TV over and over and over again. I don’t remember much else about that day, and I don’t remember much else about being in fifth grade. But I do think I will always remember where I was the day the towers came crashing down.

This year will mark the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Although it is hard to believe that 12 years have passed since that fateful day, the images and stories of what happened are still sharp in my mind, like little time has passed.

There are many reasons to remember that day. The first and most obvious reason is the sheer size and magnitude of the attack on American soil. Approximately 3,000 innocent people and first responders lost their lives. The fact that these attacks were totally unexpected and something that no person could have imagined left some Americans feeling insecure and afraid for their own lives.

Another reason to remember is the effect that it had on our nation and the world. Security has come to the forefront of so many things in today’s society, and we are always wary of another attack.

The post-9/11 America is very different from what it was when I was a child. I think Americans have become guarded when it comes to our own safety, and now are more able to process the unexpected when it happens.

We can also remember the unity that swept the nation in the aftermath of 9/11. Like a phoenix being reborn from the ashes, the sense of patriotism that came forth after the terrorist attack was the greatest I have seen in my lifetime.

As a student at Michigan State University, every Sept. 11 I participated in a remembrance event. The organizing group planted one small American flag in the ground for every person who died that day. With that many flags, it easily created a small sea of red, white and blue. On a giant rock near the flags, we painted “9-11: Never Forget.”

On the back of the rock, we wrote the saying “Let’s Roll!” One of the heroes from United Airlines Flight 93 said this just before he and other passengers tried to take back the airplane, eventually crashing it in a Pennsylvania field before it could reach its planned target in Washington, D.C. This attitude can serve as a great inspiration for us in standing vigilant against terrorism on all levels.

Over my four years of participating in this event, I was surprised and proud to see how many individuals stopped by and took pictures, simply paused and remembered, or even left pictures of family members serving in the armed forces and other small tokens near the site.

I quickly learned that the motto on the rock, “Never Forget,” is more than just a saying. It is something that our nation must do. We owe it to those who lost their lives on that day and their families, those who fight every day to protect our American freedoms and to those who will come after us, expecting to live in a free and secure nation.

Let’s remember. Let’s roll!


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