On this day, 14 years ago, America was forever changed. Too many lives were lost and a war was started. If you are old enough to remember that day, you can easily give a detailed description on where you were the moment the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Myself, like so many others, can remember exactly what we were doing, who we were with, and the feeling we had as we witnessed this horrific tragedy.
It was a perfectly clear Tuesday morning; just another normal Tuesday morning for most people. Until it wasn’t. At 8:46 a.m. everything changed. While most of us were still trying to comprehend what was happening and trying to process what we were watching, the second plane made contact with the World Trade Center’s South Tower at 9:03 a.m. And let’s not forget the third plane that was deliberately crashed into a field in Somerset County, PA at 10:07 a.m. This planes original target would never be known, only speculated. The Pentagon was also targeted when American Airlines Flight 77 deliberately crashed into it, killing all 64 people on board, including the five hijackers and six crew, as well as 125 people in the building.
The tragedy of that day is insurmountable. That day, the world stopped. America was the focus of every major news source all over the world. That day, Americans bound together in the face of abhorrent evil. That day, it did not matter what color your skin was, what language you spoke, whether you were rich or poor, or whether you were gay or straight. That day, everyone came together as what we all are: Human.
In the face of such devastation and ruin, the light that broke through all of that darkness was the people of this country coming together to help in any way that they could. Americans became one with each other. It was something that flooded the media; acts of selfless giving, healing, and searching. The countless hours that emergency service workers put in to try and find every last missing person. Men and women who went days and weeks without sleep, and never stopping to go home to their own loved ones. It was a time when America showed the rest of the world how we can come together and put aside our many differences for a greater cause. Almost immediately, the now famous saying “Never Forget,” became our slogan for this day that would be forever remembered throughout history.
Never Forget. We were never supposed to forget. But we did forget. I have seen the hashtag #NeverForget all over Twitter and Facebook all day today. I have seen it all over the Yahoo front page. It is everywhere, so you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about. The thing is, we will never forget the events that took place on September 11, 2001. Those events are forever ingrained in our minds. For some it is a nightmare that they have to relive every single night when they close their eyes. For others, the slightest smell or sound will send them into a vicious panic attack. For those that are too young to remember or who have not even been born yet, it is something that they will learn about in school.
It is not the events themselves that we have forgotten. Rather, it is how we all came together in those horrific moments that we seem to have lost. In the last several years, the media has been flooded with mass shootings, bombings, and the highly publicized incidents of police officers killing “unarmed” and “innocent” victims. My thoughts on each of these topics is something that will be saved for another time. And while I realize that these incidents are separate entities from the 9/11 attacks, the fact that these are all tragedies that should never have happened is what binds them.
As people, we have become bitter and angry. There is no unification any longer in the face of adversity. People have become desensitized to what is happening around them. Instead of coming together as human beings in dismal situations, we now separate. We fall back into our own “groups.” We segregate ourselves and lash out at those who are not like us. We blame one particular group of people based off of race, occupation, political affiliation, and sexual orientation. Instead of rising together in the face of evil, we are fighting each other instead of the real enemy. We have forgotten what it is to work together as a unit. We have forgotten that we are all human beings; we all bleed the same. We have forgotten what it is like to have the world come crashing down around us. We have forgotten that when tragedy strikes, it does not matter if you are black or white, or if you are a politician or a janitor. It does not matter if you have a 3 month old waiting at home for you, or if you just found out that you were named Valedictorian. When the world comes crashing down around us, we are all the same. When tragedy strikes, it strikes everyone equally; there is no discrimination.
I have seen some things on social media today that have me shaking my head in disbelief. Someone posted a meme that said, “14 Years Later We Have A President Who Is Arming The People That Did This” in all Caps, and it was over a picture of the ruins from the collapsed towers. As I looked at that meme I was at a loss for words. When did that horrific day become the poster child for people’s hatred towards a certain political agenda? Why has it become “okay” to use such a tragic event to fulfill our hatred towards any one subject that we don’t agree with? It is not okay.
9/11 is a day that should always be remembered. It should be remembered for the thousands of lives lost. It should be remembered for the thousands of volunteers who risked their lives to find and save others. It should be remembered for what it was: The day Americans came together no matter who or what they were. It should be remembered not just today but every single day. It should be a reminder for all of us that we are all human beings. We all have our struggles and we all have our triumphs. Today should not be filled with hateful memes or racist comments. It should be filled with respect for those that gave their lives that day and the many days that followed. September 11th should be a day where we all stop thinking of ourselves and focus on the thousands of lives that were affected on that fateful Tuesday morning.