Do you remember where you were, what you were doing, who you were with eight years ago today?
Eight years ago today, I was working out in the gym at George Mason University. I was only half-listening to the news show playing on the television. But I heard it. The chilling announcement that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York. All of a sudden my half-listening changed to complete attention - along with everyone else in the gym. We were shocked, and so sad. What a tragedy. What a terrible accident.
But then we made a horrible discovery. As we stared at the tv screen (no one was working out anymore), we watched a second plane fly straight into the second tower. This was not an accident.
The normally very loud gym was silent. We continued to stare at the screen, not completely believing our own eyes and ears. We saw the rubble, the rescue workers, the blood and tears.
But it was happening far away. Until it wasn't. Before any of us could gather our thoughts, a new announcement came over the airwaves. There were reports of an explosion at the Pentagon. We all knew. And one man said it out loud. "It was a plane." And it was. This time, it wasn't far away anymore. It was right here.
We were afraid. We were sad. We were devastated. Our country - our home - was under attack.
As we made frantic phone calls to family and friends - we all knew people who worked at the Pentagon - another tv announcement. Another plane down. This one was in a field in Pennsylvania. In less than half and hour, four planes crashed, three United States landmarks were destroyed, and thousands of people were killed. Thousands more lost loved ones. And an entire nation lost a sense of security and safety.
Do you remember the day's following?
I remember the sense of community. The national pride. I remember the blood banks filling to overflowing. The desire to help others, not just ourselves. And most of all, I remember the support we all gave to our president and our government. We turned to them to guide us through this terrible time. And they did.
We became a stronger, more unified United States. Party lines were crossed. We were no longer Democrats and Republicans. We were Americans. And we were proud of that. We would do whatever it took to protect this great nation.
For a while.
But that feeling of national unity went away. Now, party lines are stronger than ever. No longer can we be grateful for our liberty; our freedom. If things don't go our way, we throw a fit. We complain and rebel against our own elected officials. We don't support our president and our government. We don't help each other.
Why? I don't know. I think it's because of pride. And security. Our government and military have done such a good job of protecting us, of keeping us safe, that we've forgotten what it felt like to have that safety ripped away.
I haven't forgotten. That is why I am willing to send my husband and my dad far away to protect our freedom. Our safety. To protect this country that I love.
Please remember. Not just today, but every day. Support this nation. Support our leaders. Whether you voted for them or not, they are our leaders, and if we want to stay safe, we have to stay together. Support those who are out there working so hard to protect us. They are my loved ones. And I know they remember.