On this day ten years ago, millions of lives were altered forever. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 against the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania sent an entire nation into mourning, and ultimately, a decade of war.
Today, we remember the 2,996 victims who were killed as a result of the attacks. We also take time today to remember, thank and honor the soldiers who have fought and died to keep the United States of America safe.
All who were old enough remember that day. I remember that morning vividly, probably more so than any other morning of my childhood. Looking back, it was one of the most chilling days of my entire childhood, and life.
I was in fifth grade at Mary E. Stapleton Elementary School in Framingham, Massachusetts when the PA system went on and the principal announced that there had been an emergency and all of the students would be sent home.
The principal told us that planes had been flown into two towers in New York City, but we didn't know much more than that. I remember sitting at my desk and thinking with my friends about what happened and how they pulled it off. I even remember drawing a picture about what I thought had happened.
Later that day, after I had been dropped off at home by the bus, I went into the family room where my mother had the television on. It wasn't until then that what had just happened had truly hit me.
I remember feeling a sense of fear and sadness. Later I picked up the phone and called my father, who worked in downtown Framingham, to see how he was doing and to further get a sense of what happened.
My dad told me that, as a result of these attacks, our nation would most likely be going to war. That moment stuck out to me and always will for the rest of my life. I was extremely fearful and scared, as I had never experienced our country at war.
Ten years later, it still hasn't sunk in. This day has been full of ups and downs for me. I have felt extreme sadness and have shed tears. I have felt extreme pride in being American and in the USA. I have felt anger and hatred towards those cowards that hurt the country I love so dearly.
All of these emotions are still ripe and raw, and it's been 3,652 days since it occurred. Not only did that day permanently change my life and how I went about my business, but also the lives of every other American.
As a nation, the United States of America united behind the attacks, proclaiming itself as one people, united, coining phrases that will never go away. United we stand. We will never forget.
Ten years later, this nation has not forgotten. In fact, as a people, we are stronger than ever. We have undergone wars and recessions, good times and bad times, but we're still united. We are still Americans, and darn proud of it.
Despite our strong sense of patriotism, one simply cannot ignore the significance of that day. So many aspects of our lives were changed starting on that day. The way we flew was different, the way we traveled overseas was different. Even the way we attended public and sporting events was forever altered.
Instead of living our lives without a lasting sense of fear, we are now as a people constantly concerned for our own well being and the safety of our families and friends. Now, we're always looking back over our shoulders.
We have come a long way since the attacks, but the healing process is a long one. Sports have played a big role in the healing process, especially in the New York area, where fans rallied around the Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants and more, all looking for peace and searching for some sign that it was going to be alright.
Even though sports have helped, the pain is still there for the families of the victims lost in the attacks, and the member of a nation. Time simply can't heal all wounds, it can only mask the pain for a little while.
These attacks did change the way we go about our lives, but we cannot let them back us into a corner and make us fearful to live our daily lives. If we do, then those who hurt us have won.
Today, I'd ask that you do three things in memory of September 11, 2001. Take time to mourn the nation's losses (as well as your personal ones) and celebrate that you live in a free and great nation. Also take some time to be with your family members. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, go out and live your lives freely.
God Bless the victims of the 9/11 attacks, God Bless you, and God Bless America.