September 11, 2001. Suddenly, the American Dream was turned into a nightmare. A shadow of terror towered over our country. It pierced people with confusion, sorrow and a fear of tomorrow. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on that fateful day? Who could have known how much that day would change our lives, cities, nation and our world?
I remember all of the flying flags that followed the patriotic poems and speeches. Each display of personal patriotism was an act of defiance against those who attempted to destroy the American Dream. They only delayed it. Broken relationships were repaired and rekindled. Religious beliefs were restored and rejuvenated. God became a real part of many lives again, not just a swearword. Hope and unity became the new American Dream. Freedom became more than a commodity taken for granted. It became the spark and flame every heart in America held high to let the world know we were not beaten. That we were still alive. That we would not only rebuild buildings but repair the despair in each other together. We would remind any remaining terrorists that the same spirit and courage that made our country free in the first place was still alive, ready to fight and would never be beaten.
Perhaps those memories and emotional scars still mar our memories, but when we remember those dark days—when much more than towers tumbled to the ground—let us also remember to be thankful for today. While there are fewer flags flying, have we become a better people? Spouses? Co-workers? Americans? Humans? Are we more thankful for what we have? Are we still thankful for those brave men and women who rescued the survivors and who are still fighting for our freedoms?
We must keep the flames of those freedoms alive. We owe it not only to those who lost and gave their lives, but to our children and those who follow after us. They need to know what it truly means to be free. To have hope, feel safe and to be loved. This is the meaning I choose to remember. I can worry about all the bad things in this world that have happened and might happen, or I can choose to live a life of hope and love and do my part to make a difference. We can each be a flame of hope, a bright banner of the believers that America is not just our country, but our home.
Be thankful for you family. Don’t just text them, tell them, hug them. Let us remind each other that no matter our race, religion, education, or preferences; we’re all in this together. We can try to tear down each other’s towers, or we can reach out and build each other up. After all, how can we truly be the United States of America if we remain divided? Will you still remember?