I remember seeing the second plane crash into the World Trade Center live on television 15 years ago Sunday.
I was homeschooled at the time and was at home with my mom that morning, waiting to start my first lesson of the day. My mom received a phone call telling her to turn on the television; a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. Everyone thought it was an accident – a tragedy, but an accident. My mom left the room to get something, and that’s when the second plane hit.
I was only eight years old, but I knew instantly a hideous and cruel crime had occurred. Like so many other Americans, my family and I would stay glued to our TV for the coming hours, days and weeks. Our nation came together like it never had before. Collectively, we started to piece together what had happened and who had committed this appalling act of war against our country.
I’ve cried every year on 9/11 since then.
I think of the firefighters and police officers rushing up the stairs of the towers, bravely embracing certain death so that others might live. I think of the young men and women not hesitating to give their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and a dozen other places most of us had never heard of before that dreadful day. I think of the mothers who lost sons, the daughters who lost fathers, the sisters who lost brothers and the tears shed not for national loss but for personal bereavement. I think of those so desperate they chose to jump rather than suffocate in the smoke and flames. I think of those brave souls on United 93, who in their final hours chose to fight, kill and die to save thousands of others.
I also often think of the men who hijacked those planes, and the men who ordered them to do so. The thought that these men killed thousands of us – thousands of Americans, simple folks like you and me – purely because they were Americans. These men chanted “Death to America,” and death to America came.
That refrain has continued prominently in the last 15 years. A dozen times – Chattanooga, Ft. Hood, San Bernardino and Boston – terror struck blindly as more Americans died at the hands of men purely because they were Americans. To these men, being an American is a crime, and the only just punishment for that crime is death.
Think about that for a moment. Somewhere out there are people who want to kill you – not for anything that you have done – but because of the country in which you were born. These individuals seek to see your blood flow purely because it is American blood. They do not care if you are black or white, rich or poor, young or old, atheist or Christian or gay or straight. All they see is that you are an American, and therefore, in their eyes, you are condemned to death.
That should be a sobering thought. That should be a thought that unites us. That fact alone should encourage you to support the military, and that fact alone should encourage you to – if nothing else – respect the police officers who are our domestic line of defense against these would-be killers.
Take some time this week to think about that people out there are willing to die to kill you and that your fellow citizens are willing to die to protect you. I want you to consider your value as a citizen of this great nation. America has killed to protect you, and Americans have died to protect you. Everyday, blood is shed on your behalf.
It truly is an honor and a privilege to have been born into our nation and our people – the greatest nation and the greatest people on Earth. We are not perfect, and we never will be. We have our differences, and we have our problems. Therefore, let us always acknowledge our differences and constantly strive overcome our problems. However, let us also always remain united and steadfast in our resolve to do so.
God Bless America.