What We’ve Learned Since That Tragic Day

Tragic days are not the ones where your hair just won’t cooperate or when you can’t replicate that one good day you had a successful cat eye. It isn’t when your coffee order is wrong or they gave you a plain bagel instead of an everything. Those aren’t tragedies. Those are minor blips in the day that prove your self-fulfilling prophecy of today being the worst, most tragic day ever. Sure they suck, but I guarantee you won’t remember it next week, let alone 17 years later.

I could go into the events in detail. How we were in school thinking it was a joke until we saw the video being replayed in every class. Living in the “Era of the Internet”, you could see videos online that honestly still haunt me to this day. I remember how busy work was that day, being a MEPS waitress but also handling all of the military that was relocated there from the base for precautionary measures. They were somber, not the rowdy groups I was used to in there. I remember what happened after. I remembered a sudden hatred for not just the terrorists, but anyone who just “looked Muslim”. I remembered that everything was suddenly turned upside down. I remember that now as an adult who watched these events unfold my senior year of high school.

Those aren’t the important things to remember about that time. What’s most important is that in the face of the worst humanity has to offer, we saw the best in humanity. Our country always comes together in these times. The terrorists participated in these horrific acts on 9/11 or at the Boston Marathon hoping to break us. Unlike some things that are broken, we always came together stronger than ever. We helped each other through the madness. Emergency officials, both active duty and retired, joined forces to help with whatever they could. Our country stared back at these cowardly acts in defiance; no one was going to break us and if they tried, we would show them the strength in unity.

What we learned about ourselves during this time is a lesson that we seem to be forgetting again. That’s how history usually happens, right? We learn a valuable lesson and somehow keep losing it, only to relearn it again. We are stronger as one. No one can tear us down if we stay strong as a unified force. It doesn’t matter what political party you are, what religion you follow, who you go to bed to at night. None of that matters. We are Americans. We want our country to flourish and fight back from those who want to do us harm. We want to laugh in their faces. “You think you knocked us down? Think again.” The minute we forget these lessons is the minute that we become weak to these types of attacks again.

Today, remember all of that. Remember the lives that we lost today, especially the ones who sacrificed their lives to help others. Remember how strength in unity makes us unstoppable. Remember this now, in a world where people keep trying to divide us. This divisiveness will break us if we let it. We can’t let it.

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Remember, Remember, the 11th of September

I loved V for Vendetta. I will argue that the graphic novel was much better than the movie, but that’s the same argument everyone uses in similar situations. When I think of today, all I can think of is the famous line from it: remember, remember the fifth of November. I like my version better. Today is an important day in American history, and an important day in my own, as today my little one has turned one. My once little burrito baby is now a toddler. Today of all days, I celebrate my son’s birthday while the rest of the country seems to be mourning.

On a day of such sadness, we need to look at the positives. It’s fine to remember the past, but we can’t dwell on it. The best part about living through a tragedy is gaining strength to move on from it. It’s 12 years, and I would like to think we’re better people. We’re not, but I would like to think we are. We’re stronger than we were, if nothing else. Just like the Boston tragedy this year, we learned that when tragedy strikes people join together to help out their fellow-man. It’s after that, the camaraderie fades away and it becomes a dog eat foreigners world. We’ve grown from it, we’ve become more paranoid and we’ve survived.

The last part was the most important of my statement: we’ve survived. We survived 9/11 and we’ve survived the Boston Bombing and the tragedies that followed within days after. We are survivors. We don’t sit around being victims. We stand up and live our lives anyways. What we need to do is to not look at this day as one that may or may not be forgotten; it won’t be forgotten. We need to look at this day as something that happened in our past that made us a nation of strength. We join together today but it’s important that we treat this like our own lives: we accept the past as the past and focus on what we are today. So while there are events all over the television to commemorate today, we should remember that we’re different now. Also, we should point out that remember today doesn’t mean that we need to rewatch the incident repeatedly all day long. Living it once was enough for me.