I was sixteen years old, a sophomore in high school when I first heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
As I sit here now, I can remember the influx of emotions I had as I went about my routine that day that proved to be anything but normal. I sat in a seminary class early that morning, anxious to know what in the world was going on. It was not until after that class was over that I heard the twin towers had fallen. I remember walking the hallways with my fellow classmates, watching the televisions all around the school, just in stunned silence.
I remember sitting in a chair next to my teacher in agriculture class listening to the radio, wondering when and if the next attack was coming. We heard of the first two planes, then a third, then a fourth. I remember my heart pounding, and tears flowing down people’s faces. I remember hearing his name.
Osama bin Laden.
I knew who he was already. Growing up, I always had a certain love of country. For whatever reason, it seems to have been instilled in me naturally. I went to Washington D.C. when I was eight. That was my biggest dream up to that point in my life. I longed to be there. I wanted to feel the power of the American spirit. As a kid, I loved the Fourth of July, I loved American history, I just plain old cared about what was happening in this country. So, I knew who he was. I knew that the United States of America was not going to put up with this. We were going to take him out, and we were going to do it quickly and swiftly. I was wrong, and at times, angry.
Then came last night. Nearly ten years later. I have a family of my own. My kids have never lived in a pre-9/11 world. See, I was just old enough to remember what it was like before 9/11. I was old enough then to know that the country would be different, and I am certainly not naïve enough to believe that the country is suddenly going to change. The funny thing is I was having a conversation with my dad just over a week ago about how Osama bin Laden had accomplished all that he set out to do. He had changed the American way of life. To me, his goal was to do just that, and then sit back and watch America tear itself apart from the inside out. I won’t lie; up to this point I thought he was accomplishing everything he desired.
Now, he is dead. The man who defined a generation can do no more. The United States of America has won the battle. Today, despite all my frustrations over the last decade, I am reminded of how wonderful it is to be an American. The fact is, though it may sound trite to some, this country has ideals and values that are worth fighting for. This country is not going to sit back and allow others to trample on our liberties and freedoms. We may challenge each other as Americans, but that is our right, that is our liberty, and no other ideology or evil will trump that freedom in importance.
So, for just one moment, once again, we stand united. We stand united at the death of one man. We stand united at a promise by our leader’s that was for once kept. The American flag waves proudly, and differing ideologies disappear if only for one brief period of time.
There will be some who wonder what do we do now? For me, I say we just keep pushing. We need to keep building on what makes America great. As the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 reminded us, I say, “Let’s Roll.”