I was at my house getting ready for school. The TV was always on in the mornings although I rarely paid attention to it. I walked into my parents’ bathroom to grab something when the news caught my eye. One of the Twin Towers had been hit by a flying plane. Slowly I approached the TV to watch and hear more. It was then that I watched as another plane hit the second tower. I yelled for my parents to come and watch. We didn’t know what was happening. We were glued to the TV screen. Then bright red words came across the screen…
“America is under attack.”
My dad took me to school late because we didn’t want to leave the TV screen. I walked into my first period and the TV was on. All day long the TVs were on. The Pentagon was hit by another plane. The fourth plane landed in a field, obviously not reaching its destination. We didn’t know how many planes there were or when the attacks would be finished.
The day of September 11, 2001 was burned in my memory. I was 14 years old.
It would take weeks and weeks to sort everything out. Everyday the news reported something new, people that were missing, firefighters that had sacrificed themselves, the hijackers and their sinister plot, the terror they had created, and the American unity that ultimately prevailed.
I remember the day when they reported that ground zero had finally stopped smoldering. I remember watching over and over the video of the planes hitting the towers and the people in the streets trying to escape the dust and debris that clogged the streets and filled the air. The stories emerged, the dead were mourned, the survivors honored.
Weeks turned into months and months into years.
Slowly we picked ourselves up. Americans came together and we took revenge. We realized the value of our freedom. The masterminds behind the attacks were found and ultimately put to death.
Every year on the anniversary of 9/11 I would watch on the news as a bell was chimed for each of the people killed on that day. Every day for nine years the same act was repeated. Ground zero was cleaned up and the Freedom Tower was cleared for construction, a symbol that Americans will not back down, we will not forgot, and we will not be the same.
I didn’t know that on this day, September 11, 2011, exactly ten years later that I would be living in the nation’s capital. It is a privilege and an honor to be here. It is a privilege and an honor to be an American and to call this nation mine.
So today we will ring the bells again. We will continue to honor those who have fallen and those who were sacrificed. We will yell from the housetops and sing in our hearts. We will fly our flags high in the red, white, and blue
We will be proud to call ourselves Americans, for this country is ours, and no one can take that away from us.