Ten Years Later: The Price of Freedom

Good morning from Northern Nevada,

Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons (especially September) although for the last ten years, there has always been a looming cloud associated with the beginning of September. As I’m sure each of you can relate to, September 11, 2001 carved a deep and painful memory into my very being.

Three weeks into my high school career, my world got tipped upside in mere minutes. I’ll never forget sitting in Mr. Nagel’s World History class with all eyes glued to the TV.  Simply, it was a roomful of scared, shocked students who did not know what was going on or what was going to happen. Were we at war? Were we under attack?

The remainder of that day is kind of a blur, just lots of discussion and sharing of fears. What’s a high schooler to do when all of the grown ups they know are frightened and scared too! The images of those planes slamming into the World Trade Center were burned into my eyes many times that day, and with those images comes the gripping fear and uncertainty so many experienced.

With the tenth anniversary come and gone, it struck me how much of an impact that one day had on my life, and yet do we do a good job of properly remembering it? It’s easy to fly your flag and tell everyone you know that you’re feeling “patriotic” but what purpose does that serve us? All too often, I get wrapped up in my day to day problems instead of remembering and thanking those who have sacrificed their lives (in any form) for our freedom. I’m too busy whining about gas prices, complaining that my bills are killing my wallet, or that airline tickets to exotic destinations continue to rise in price.

There is certainly nothing wrong with acknowledging the difficulties of the current economic vice grip that we are in, but really it dims so much in comparison to what is going on all across the globe. Times are definitely different now than they were pre 9/11, but perhaps we missed the memo as a culture. I’ll be the first to admit that I am terrible about taking time out of my life to thank veterans, firefighters, etc. for the many sacrifices they make to ensure that we can go on living the way we have. I honestly just take too much for granted.

Excluding 2001, I have rarely thought about September 11th more than three or four times a year, and the worst part is I only do it when it’s “convenient” or “fits into my schedule.” Obviously Memorial Day and September 11th are automatic days for remembering those thousands who were murdered when the planes slammed into the buildings, but don’t we owe them more than that? I have no problem being discontent that I have to take my shoes off in the airport security line, but could I tell you the names of just ten victims from 9/11? Embarrassingly, I could not…

It has been an interesting decade, one full of many surprises, hard times, and lots of changes, and I feel that the world is definitely a very different place. So what can we do to keep moving forward while never forgetting what has happened? We have engaged in two wars, seen Africa turned on its head, watched our debt spiral out of control, and have Presidential elections coming up around the corner.

We owe it to those who have sacrificed to continue persevering in the improvement of our world and our country, but we cannot disservice them by forgetting what happened. My goal for the year is to take a more active stance in remembering the victims, whether it’s picking up a book to learn more about those who died, or just getting involved in the political process (which is what democracy and our country is all about anyways).

It is painful to take time for proper remembrance, but isn’t it more painful if the events of that day are completely forgotten? It’s our obligation as American citizens to never let that happen…

How do you take time out of your life to remember those who have sacrificed so much?

Picture credit 1. Photo credit 2. Photo credit 3.

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6 Comments

  1. Well stated, Russ. I’m proud of you. Hope you DO get involved in the political process and even start writing your elected officials. Maybe you’ll have an impact on something. And a LOT of somethings have to change drastically. Our country is falling apart. Hurray for those that fight and write for freedom.

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