I usually don't comment on political things (and yes, I think this topic could be considered political) but the war on terror has been a part of my life since I was in high school (yes, I know that really dates me- I'm a baby). As a high school student, I thought that all my guy friends would be drafted and that life would never be the same. I thought it would be interesting to share with you what my 15 year-old self wrote about 9/11, so here are some excerpts from my journal:
"The biggest event in the world's history of Terrorism: September 11, 2001
Today, what was said to be the worst attack on American soil took place. The World Trade Center, the Twin Towers, have been completely and utterly destroyed. Part of the pentagon has been destroyed and was on fire. They say over 10,000 people have died.
However, these were no ordinary destructions (sic). Planes were used. The terrorists went on suicide missions and ran the plane (sic) into the towers . . . . These men were members of Bin Laden's terrorist community. That is all I wish to say right now.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001
Today the President declared war against
p.s. School games (sports) and homework are still proceeding as usual.
Sunday, Sept. 16 2001
I got my facts messed up. The president did not OFFICIALLY declare war, but he said that any country who harbors Bin Laden, we consider that country to be the same as him. I'm not scared anymore. . . .
September 18 - Tuesday
Today was the week aniversary (sic) of the tragedy in NY and Washington. I hope the country can heal itself. I hope we don't go to war.
November 22 Thursday
There's been a big anthrax scare being carried through the mail. We are totally wiping out the Taliban in Afghanistan. Surprisingly, no one has turned in Osama Bin Laden yet, considering the reward for him has reached 72 million - dead or alive."
I hope you don't mind, but I edited a lot out about boys. That's different subject matter entirely (and you're not ever reading that, mind you).
I know I wasn't the most eloquent teenager, but I remember how scared I was when I wrote about what happened that day. I don't think I knew how to react. The idea of war being a part of my generation didn't even occur to me. I'd completely forgotten about the anthrax scare and how positive the news was about the war at first; see that, up there? "We are totally wiping out the Taliban?" News media has certainly changed its tune a bit in the last 10 years.
I have some mixed feelings about this newest piece of news. I'm relieved that they finally got him. I'm sad that we've been at war so long. I'm happy for the families of the victims of 9/11. I can't help but feel a little irony that some of us are dancing in the streets they way they did after that Tuesday.
This evening we were driving home and saw a man waving a flag in the street. I didn't know why at the time and I'm ashamed to admit that I thought he was a total loon. I think I understand.
Bin Laden has been the face of terrorism for 10 years and today we got the news that he is dead and gone from this world. I don't think it is wrong to feel a little swelling of pride. We have been waiting for this for so long.
We were so positive and unified in our love for this country. I remember hearing and singing "God Bless the U.S.A." all the time back in 2001. I'm not gonna lie; I love that song.
"I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land; God bless the U.S.A."
I tear up every time I hear it and I don't care that it's cheesy. I realized this evening that we don't own an American flag. I remember growing up that each national holiday my mother would get out our fringed flag and carry it with reverence to our porch and set it up, carefully and gingerly sliding the flag onto its pole and easing it into its bracket. I remember the peace in her face and her smiles at me.
I think it's time to invest in a flag.
I want my children to know what a blessing it is to live here. They get to vote. They get to live. They can make life better for themselves. I know the American dream means different things to everyone, and some people discount it entirely, but I think it's important to recognize that it still means something. I think it's about potential, the potential to become something more. And it's still important to me.
After reflecting on all this, I feel a call to action to teach my children about life, principles of loyalty, honor and patriotism. I feel gratitude toward the men and women who have been fighting all these years. I need to remember how blessed we really are.
What about you? How have your feelings changed (or not) in the last 10 years?