Thirteen years ago I was 17 and a month into my senior year in a California high school.
Thirteen years ago my mom pulled me out of bed and into her room.
Thirteen years ago I stood dumbfounded in my parents bedroom watching Towers 1 & 2 billowing smoke.
Thirteen years ago I watched in absolute shock as people stepped from ledges on those towers.
Thirteen years ago while watching the scene unfold I said, “We’re going to war.”
Thirteen years ago I can’t remember getting ready for school.
Thirteen years ago we listened as the news told us about the Pentagon.
Thirteen years ago I walked into a somber school where I felt like I lived out a scene from Mermaids – instead of seeing news footage of Kennedy’s assassination, I watched, horrified, as the news replayed the collapse of the Towers.
Thirteen years ago we watched as the media reported another plane down in Pennsylvania.
Thirteen years ago I felt frightened, angry, patriotic beyond that which I already was; I wanted to do something.
Thirteen years ago we moved through the motions of the day with a constant barrage of footage of crashes, ashes, and tears.
Thirteen years ago we witnessed acts of heroism, day in and day out: men and women from all walks of life pulling people from the rubble.
Thirteen years ago we mourned those who died and clung to hope for those who might still live.
Thirteen years ago the heart of the nation broke.
Thirteen years ago we changed.
Thirteen years ago we were a nation united.
Thirteen years later we’re a nation divided.
Divided though we may be by the stupidity of politics and “choosing sides”, we must not forget the men and women who lost their lives because some asshats decided murder meant martyrdom.
We must not forget the men and women who put aside their sense of self-preservation and instead stepped into the rubble of three buildings guided by a sense of hope; many who would later be counted among the lost.
We must not forget to honor the memories of those who perished on September 11th and the days, weeks, months and years thereafter.
We must not forget the lives given in service to their country – regardless of your stance on the “why”.
We must not forget that we can unite when we remove titles from one another – black, white, purple, orange, doctor, construction worker, lawyer, policeman, fireman, Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guardsman, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent – and remember that we are first and foremost Americans.
Remember the 11th of September.