We should call it America’s day. Most people can guess what date that would be but why should it be America’s day? What was it about that day that revealed so much about America?
The answer may surprise you.
9/11 is America’s day.
When we think of 9/11, many memories flash before our eyes. Perhaps it is the photo of the second plane, taken moments before it struck the second tower. Perhaps it is the video of the explosion of that plane hitting the second tower. Perhaps it is the image of the burning black smoke, smearing the otherwise cloudless, blue late summer sky.
Perhaps it is the video of the towers coming down or even the photos of an empty Pennsylvania field. Maybe it is just the words, “let’s roll.”
9/11 is America’s day not because of what happened but because of what we did. It is America’s day not because we were attacked, but because how we responded.
We the people responded in a manner that is consistent with the highest traditions of America.
Instead of meekly surrendering, the flight attendants on the doomed planes called into their company to warn them about the hijackings. At the time, they had no clue the planes were going to be turned into kamikazes. They had watched the hijackers kill the flight crews and they risked their lives to give the warning. On Flight 77, Barbara Olsen conservative author and the wife of then Solicitor General Ted Olsen defied the terrorists and called to warn about that hijacking.
The policemen and firemen of New York City raced to the World Trade Center. They bravely ascended the stairs, not knowing the building would come down but well aware of the dangers. They had families at home, but risked all that day and many of them gave all.
Many of those in the World Trade Center began the evacuation after the planes hit. It was a long and slow process going down those steps. Some could not make it, at least not on their own. Average Americans risked their lives that day to help others in that building escape. The only connection they had to one another in most cases is both people were Americans.
In the skies over Pennsylvania, the final battle of 9/11 was fought. Passengers on flight 93 called from the plane and were told about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Instead of quietly accepting their fate, they acted.
Todd Beamer’s famous words from the plane said it all. “Let’s roll.”
9/11 is America’s day because it showed the character of America. Americans willingly marched into danger that day, not because they wanted to but because it was their duty to serve and protect. The Americans of flight 93 fought back because it is the character of America that we do not surrender. We fight.
After the attacks, news agencies showed jubilant crowds throughout the Muslim world celebrating the attack. America did not retaliate against these nations. We did not even retaliate against the nation from which 15 of the 19 attackers came.
America did not turn on Arabs in this nation. Even though the attack was motivated by the Islamic hatred of the west, we did not go and destroy mosques are burn down the houses of Muslims.
Time has passed. We have mourned our dead and gone about our lives.
The debris have been moved from the WTC grounds and a memorial have been built. The Pentagon has been repaired and there is a memorial in that field in Pennsylvania.
Today is a day to remember. It is not a day for “public service.” Today is a day to give thanks. Today is a day for prayer.
Our fellow citizens made us proud on 9/11. They showed us what it means to be an American.
Today we should pray and give thanks for being Americans. We should pray and give thanks for those incredible blessings we have as Americans that shape our national character. We should pray today and remember those who fell that day and their families.
Most importantly, today we should pray that there will never be another 9/11.