In remembrance of those who perished in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and all their sacrifice stands for to us, the people of the United States.
I was but nine years old. I didn't listen to the news, or read the papers. I didn't know.
My father was about to drive away to work. He paused at the foot of the driveway and called me to him from where I stood waving on the porch. He wasn't cheerful anymore. He told me to run inside and tell my mother to turn on the radio. I did, confused. My mother seemed confused as well. She turned on the radio. I don't remember if I heard what was being said, but I cannot forget the way her face changed as she listened. I remember the shock I felt when I saw the shock on her expression.
When I got to school, we were all confused. My teacher kept calm, and her presence of mind caught on to her students. She gathered us in a corner and explained in the gentlest yet most truthful of terms what had happened that morning. I have been told that the footage played on the televisions at school. I don't remember. The first time I remember seeing it was when I came home. My father had come home early - an extremely unsusal proceeding - and was watching the news downstairs. I joined him on the couch and watched, too. Over and over and over again the clip was played - the airplanes crashing into the towers, catching on fire, demolishing the face of the building, sending up smoke clouds, taking lives, over and over and over again. I was frightened by what I was seeing and because I could feel that my parents were frightened. I began to cry. My father turned off the TV.
We prayed for them often after that - the people who had died, and their families. For a time, Terror and Tension remained present, showing their faces occasionally in memories and news reports. But soon Peace came again. The attacks were over. We were safe. We need not feel fear anymore.
However, that was only in the mind of a ten year old. Across the country, the smoldering remains of what had once been the Word Trade Center stood witness to the impact of what had occured. Hundreds of grieving families had not yet felt that peace, and would not for a long time to come. Leaders of the nation were congregating, Fear and Insecurity and Indecision keeping their company, though no one would address their presence. Fear, though subtle as a shadow, continued to reign.
Then war began. Though peace might have come to a naive ten year old, there was contention abroad. In a far away country, there was pain and punishment. There were wrongs committed by many, so that it was hard to tell anymore who was the victim and who the attacker. Fear reigned unveiled there, along with new accomplices - Death and War and Poverty and Ignorance and Suffering, each playing its own part.
Since that fateful day, and the fateful events that followed after, there are pieces of Fear that never have left. We search for them in security lines, interrogate them in our war prisons, and keep them controlled in our laws. Sometimes Fear shows itself again in small attacks and smaller attempts - but on the whole it has been banished.
It is not time, however, that has rid the country of its temporary tyrant. It was something else that was reborn along with Fear the day the twin towers fell. Courage - pure, patriotic, undying Courage. It took Courage for those on the unsuccessful flight to give the call "Let's roll!" and go to work to protect the innocent. It took Courage for those firefighters and brave citizens who endured the smoke and blaze of the towers to preserve as many lives as possible. It took Courage for the families of the fallen to pick up the pieces and move forward, having faith in a new day waiting on the horizon. And Courage has given birth to beautiful offspring - precious Hope and stalwart Loyalty, fair Compassion and constant Faith. They in turn have carried Prayer and Charity and Love and Strength upon their wake. America took Courage, and in doing so made itself a little more perfect.
All our gratitude for those who perished on September 11, for the brave souls who fought the good fight that day, for the loved ones who have shown our country what sacrifice means, and for those courages service men who rose to our defense and fight for us even now. My gratitude to those who knew that September 11 wasn't the end, who believed in healing and brighter tomorrows, and who helped to make it happen. All of these and more have done something to America that nothing else could have done - truly giving this nation a New Birth of Freedom.
Let us not soil the name that has been made, nor lose hope for what we have. America proved to herself ten years ago that she can endure whatever the powers of earth may send - and she can do it again. Courage, my friends - and Faith, and Hope, and Dedication. Following in the footsteps of those who fell there, and standing in the paths that they who fought there so nobly advanced, there will be nothing we cannot accomplish. A new tomorrow waits for us just beyond the dawning horizon. Let us go, one nation under God, and find it together.
God bless America - and God bless her people. Onward, my friends - onward.