It’s been eight years, though it’s hard to believe so much time has passed. I very distinctly remember that day, my eighth grade, the first year in the high school. It was a Tuesday. I was in the computer lab with my English class, working on a research paper. I happened by MSN.com, and saw a picture of a building exploding on the front page. I remember I thought it was a movie that was coming out. Our teacher was talking to the lady who oversaw the computer lab, and very shortly after that we were ushered back to the room. It was in social studies later in the day that we learned what was actually happening. As I watched the fuzzy images on the old tv, I remembered mom saying that my grandfather had an appointment in New York that day. I also knew my father would most likely be called out to help. The announcement that there had been a terrorist attack over the loudspeaker system silenced the whole school.
I ran home from the bus stop, praying that Grandpa was alright. Mom had no idea what I was talking about. I think Dad having to leave so suddenly totally through it from her mind. That’s right, I never did get to say to goodbye to my father that time. He was gone before I got home from school. We didn’t hear from him again for weeks, and when we did, it was just a few words to assure us that he was safe, and that he was doing the best he could for our country. My grandfather didn’t go in for those tests after all, so he was safe too. And even though Dad didn’t come home again for more than a month, and barely made it home in time for Christmas, I think over all, our family was extremely lucky that day. Not just because Dad was able to help. Not even because Grandpa didn’t end up going somewhere dangerous. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have witnessed the scene that played that night, live from Washington. Congress, gathered together on the steps of the Capital building spontaneously burst out into song. No matter how long I may live, that rendition of “God Bless America” will always be for me the most moving. When people who have fought bitterly against one another for one moment are brought together by a unified sense, it’s something incredible.
It’s the only bright spot of the entire day. Remember the innocents who died. Remember those who gave their lives fighting to protect others. Remember the heroes. Remember the agony. While you remember the grief and pain, though, remember that one bright spot of unity and hope. Remember, “God Bless America”.