Eleven years ago tragedy struck America in the form of heartless terrorists and for today, I will take a break from my usual SAT/ACT test prep to remember 9-11 and to talk from my heart about what this day means to me.
It is impossible to put into words the feeling, that pit-in-your-stomach, agonizing pain, senseless fear, or overpowering confusion 9-11 caused. I remember sitting on my back deck on a beautiful Tuesday morning, my three precious little boys playing but subdued in the background, and looking up at that cloudless sky while realizing that not that far away there was no beautiful sky but only thick smoke and falling debris. Not far from me, planes had been used as bombs, smoke filled the air, fear and pain confronted our nation in a way I’d never imagined, and people had been killed.
By now, the pictures, videos, and personal testimonies have told the stories of 9-11 far better than I ever could. I was a periphery witness, involved from a distance, looking on heartbroken, and feeling incredibly blessed to have not lost anyone close to me. Again, I struggle for words to describe that day and find none.
There was a hole in the ground where those towers had stood, but there was a bigger hole in the hearts of Americans and in fact, in the hearts of many around the world. Those towers had held so many beautiful, wonderful, amazing people of many backgrounds, races, religions, and nations. Those people had stayed in, lived in, and come to America not because they were forced to, but for The Dream that is America.
It is difficult to find anyplace on earth filled with the goodness and opportunities America offers. It is not a perfect nation. It has not one perfect person, but it is a nation in which you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. Let not poverty, intelligence, background, or someone’s desire to put you down determine who you are, or more importantly, who you will become. Think of those people who have made it despite the odds stacked against them and know you to can succeed if you put your heart and mind into what is good and go after it with all your ability. In America, nothing can hold you back or prevent you from achieving your dreams, except you.
I cannot help but wonder what those lives lost in the Towers, the Pentagon, on Flight 93, and in the battlegrounds of Iraq, Afghanistan and countless lesser known lands would tell you today if they could. In my heart, I believe they died knowing they were given opportunities most people around the world cannot even dream of. I believe they would ask you to make the best of every day you are given, to not let them have died in vain. Make the best to do good, to be good, to avoid blame, to take responsibility, to succeed, and to rejoice in the blessings America has been given. You can do anything here if you work hard and choose to believe.
Today, when remembering 9-11, I hope you do four things. First, take the time to watch those videos of 9-11, and then watch them again and again and again, and then watch them some more. Second, please take the time to thank every police officer, firefighter, and military personnel you know. They do make a difference in all our lives. Third, live each day like it is truly your last. This does not mean shallow partying, but make the very best of every encounter, embrace every wonder of this world, make peace with those around you, find reason to smile, laugh, and love, and never turn your back on an opportunity because of the fear of failure. Let nothing hold you back. Finally, I ask that you take the time to pray, for those souls lost on 9-11, for the men and women who protect and defend us every day, for yourself and your family, and for America, that she may continue to be the beacon of light and goodness for the world.
On 9-11, remember, and pray that God continues to Bless America.