Let me state this loud and clear from the beginning: The events that transpired on September 11, 2001 were horrific, horrendous, and should never have happened. My heart aches for those who lost their lives and loved ones or those who have suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally because of it.
When I say, “I miss September 12th”, I mean I miss the positive changes that came about.
I miss the collective shift of focus. Remember how we felt when we saw what happened? We realized that there are so many things in our lives that take up a lot of our time but do not matter! We saw we could actually live better lives if we went without them. We didn’t care so much if we had stuff; we wanted to be with those we loved.
I miss the sense of community. In Oklahoma, tragedy has hit us so many times through the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building as well as so many tornadoes. After those events, as well as 9-11, Americans stopped looking inward and began to look outward with more fervor. We looked for ways to help, to fill needs, and to just show kindness to our neighbors.
I miss the respect for veterans and first responders. I remember talking to my grandpa after September 11, 2001. He told me that when he saw those planes hit the Twin Towers, he had flashbacks to learning about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That really made an impression on me. It made me realize the horrors of war that servicemen and women see and yet they do it willingly because they believe in freedom, liberty, and justice. Watching the crowds run from the smoky ash of New York City while firefighters, police officers, and EMTs raced toward the danger made us all realize they are true heroes who place their lives on the line every day.
I miss the patriotism. There was a commercial from the AD Council that played after the attacks, that I wish was still being played. Remember when President George W. Bush stood at Ground Zero with the megaphone and the crowd started chanting: “USA! USA! USA!”? I still get goosebumps. I was a sophomore in high school when the Towers fell. It was a Tuesday. The following week, we had an assembly in which we honored veterans, listened to their stories, and sang patriotic songs. It helped us work through our emotions by remembering that even though we were hit hard, we were still blessed and thankful to be living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I miss the kindness. It’s no secret that we’ve become a less-kind society. We could easily blame social media but the blame is every person’s burden to bear. After 9-11, our own mortality became much more apparent, helping us to have more patience with those around us. After all, we were all in the same boat. Now it’s as though we all have our own boats and if yours so much as comes near mine, I’ll send a missile to take it down.
Will we ever get back to the September 12th-level of love and care for our neighbor? I really hope so. I also hope it doesn’t take a tragedy to get us there.