I wasn’t going to do a 9/11 tribute this year because, well, everyone else is doing it. However, because everyone else is doing it, it’s been on my mind a lot lately, so if I intend to keep up this lovely sleep pattern I’ve grown accustomed to, I had better share some of my thoughts.
Like all of you, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news on that September day. I don’t need to dig out Journal #8 to refresh my memories of what I experienced or what was going through my mind; it is forever branded in my memory, along with all those other fateful moments that changed my life.
That day started out like a typical day for a 9th grade girl, except I’m sure my head was a bit preoccupied with prospective birthday presents I was expecting to receive in a few days. I didn’t even know that anything was wrong until 2nd period (P.E.) when Mr. Clayton spent an unusually long time on morning announcements. None of us were paying attention, of course, because it was almost impossible to hear the intercom over the loud chatter of teenage girls in an echoey locker room, so we ignored him as usual.
Mrs. Braithwaite later explained to us what was going on when we were all gathered in the gym, but as I was sitting in the back of the group with one of my best friends, I had better things to do than pay attention.
I wasn’t until I sat in Mrs. McKinley’s English class that I finally realized the gravity of the situation; the world as I knew it had just changed forever. That night at home as I watched those towers fall over and over again on TV, I ached for those who had been directly affected by the attack, and I worried about the violence of the inevitable war and how it would affect me personally. I didn’t quite understand why the adults kept telling me that I would always remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard that the Two Towers had fallen, but I understood enough to know that this event would alter the course of our future.
And the world has changed since that day. Some of those changes have been good, such as the thousands of people who turned their hearts to God after shutting him out for years and years, and some of those changes have been bad, such as the fragile economy. Airport security has increased tenfold since that day ten years ago, and many Americans who once thought they were invincible still to this day live under a cloud of fear.
I think the biggest tragedy, though, is how certain things have returned to the way they were before September 11, 2001. On September 10, a lot of Americans didn’t spare a second thought for God or religion. On September 11, though, many of those same people prayed for the first time in many years.
I was among the lucky who got to hear from President Gordon B. Hinckley the Sunday after the attacks. It was at a regional conference at the Marriot Center, and Pres. Hinckley wasn’t supposed to speak that day. However, it was a day that we needed to hear from God’s mouthpiece, so Pres. Hinckley gave us words of comfort, quoted Captain Moroni a lot, and admonished us to continue to do good. It was one of the hymns, though, that truly spoke to me the words I needed to hear: “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” Our lives had been changed that week, but as the congregation sang those powerful words together in that stadium, we felt what thousands of Americans across the country were feeling as well: that God is still in charge and that if we stick together, we will come out of this a better, stronger people.
It may have taken tragic circumstances, but America was unified during that difficult time 10 years ago.
Sadly, I can’t say the same thing about today. People have shut God out of their lives once more, and every day I read about how Americans are unhappy with the way the country is being run, how the government can’t agree on how to curb the astronomically rising debt, how no one can agree on anything because no one trusts anyone.
We all remember that day 10 years ago, but America needs to be reminded of a valuable lesson we all learned: we need to live by faith, not fear; we need to love one another, not fight with each other. Thousands of people lost their lives that day, and for a while we honored their memory.
But time passes and memories fade. It’s a natural part of being human.
I still believe that this world—this country especially—is a blessed place to live in and that people are inherently good, but I think that as we look back on 9/11 we need to take the time to remember the bond of brotherhood that spread throughout the nation as we suffered together.
Because in the end, God is still in charge, and that is all that really matters.