This morning, after a few weeks of reading the paper of all that is going on in our state, our nation and how our country involves itself with the problems of other countries, along with the healthcare of our country, I find myself asking “have we changed?”
For days after 911 I was numb to all that was going on around me. My homeschooling and household tasks were frozen in time, as I watched the repeated news reels of that dreadful day where our nation was physically attacked by outsiders. How visual the word “hate” felt while watching the repeated footage of that nightmare.
Although twelve years have passed I reflect on how that day might have changed me. I know it affected me emotionally for quite some time. My homeschool lessons incorporated tolerance, reinforcing what was always taught, that although we do not have to accept the hate or pain inflicted on us by others, we do need to open our hearts as to the unknown reasons of why others make the choices that they do in life. In addition, we need to put on arms of protection in order to withstand the cruel nature of others.
Even to this day, I still cry at the loss of lives, the change in many family dynamics, as well as realizing how vulnerable we are as a nation. But, what changes did I subconsciously make due to that horrendous event in history, where I was alive to witness it from a television screen?
Although I do not see a change in how I treat and care about others, I do know that it did change how I viewed America. Our country ran amuck with emotions that day, filled with terror, heart-break, emotional pain, and shock. We found ourselves as a country filled with people ready to put on arms to defend a nation we so callously took for granted.
We feared outsiders as we embraced our family and neighbors. Young men and women were preparing to leave their youth behind in order to train up to be on guard for our country. Allied countries came beside us to defend our nation in order to put an end to the terror that was inflicted upon our country.
The immediate response was to become a nation reunited as one. We witnessed able bodied men and women, strongly desiring to defend our nation in the many military branches. Our paid and volunteer EMT’s, fire and police personnel were ready to oversee our towns and cities, in a stronger effort to keep us well protected.
I still see the strength of those who serve us nationally as well as locally, who continue to defend and protect the people of the Unites States of America. I see their pride when they share pictures of what they are learning, the events they hold in honor of loved ones or a cause that is near to their hearts, or when they are out and about doing what they are trained to do.
But as a nation of people did we change? After we embraced our co-workers and reached out to help others cope, did we stop that act of caring through the days and years that followed? After that moment in time when everything slowed down, how quickly did our lives become active again, enjoying our freedom, without a thought to the men and women who were still fighting and dying for our ability to enjoy life and our freedom here within the confirms of the United States?
Politicians are back to their old ways of making decisions that benefit the politicians while the American worker struggles to make ends meet. Large corporations continue to rake in huge financial rewards at the cost of emptying the pockets of every hard-working American citizen. The government increasingly takes from the American workers the ability to save for their future.
But, not learning from the negative behaviors of our leaders and monopolizing corporations, I humbly ask: Do we silently offer a hand when one is in need? Do we offer our smile to brighten the day of a passerby? Do we take what is not ours in order to benefit ourselves, while stealing from the pockets of what others need? Do we speed through life putting others in danger as we ignore the stop signs in front of us? Do we judge others based on appearance rather than their genuine character?
I cannot answer these questions for others as I can only be accountable for my own actions in life. I would like to believe that there are fewer takers in comparison to the givers in our society. But there are daily signs of rude and selfish acts that shadow how we were treated by those outsiders on September 11, 2001. It is the tears of remembrance and the tears of how we treat one another today that still make my heart cry.
I pray that as a nation we choose to grow, stand alongside each other as we defend our country with pride and stamina. It not only takes the physical armor of protection to defend our country, but also a nation of proud citizens who, as a group, feel a strong sense of belonging.
May the memory of our past guide us in our growth as a nation of people who care for one-another.
God Bless America!!
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