Every Sept 11th since 2001 I have written something in remembrance of the infamous day. It would usually be passionate, thought provoking, inspiring and at times sad. I would talk about my mother's call to me in the early morning hours. I would talk about turning on my TV at her request in time to see the second plane hit the second tower. I would talk about all the sacrifices we have made in the military to right a wrong and to take out those evil cowards who would do something of this nature. I will end them in one way or another stating emphatically that I will, in fact, not forget. That has not changed. I still remember it all. I still remember the feelings, the emotions of sitting in the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron's conference room listening to the CO give his briefing to us on what we were going through, what we are going to do and what we were allowed to say. I remember it as vividly now as I did on that morning 17 years ago. I will never forget.
That is the easy part isn't it? We can share a meme or change a profile picture with some form of "Never Forget" on it. Tomorrow on September 12th most of the pictures will turn back to selfies, kids, cats and whatevers. We will have done our duty as Americans or "Mericans" as one particular group likes to call us. We will have thanked our military men and women who are continuing to fight the big fight so far from loved ones. We will definitely thank our first responders especially the Firefighters who sacrificed many in those collapsing buildings. We will have done our duty in not forgetting. We never forget.
Yesterday Sept 10th an article was shared by a Facebook friend where celebrity Mike Rowe in his usual eloquent way of writing addressed the current controversy with Nike using Colin Kapernick as a hero spokesman. In his write up Mike shared the transcript of a call from Tom a man on flight 93 that was forced down into a open field by the passengers. The person who shared it did not share any other opinion but simply celebrated the point Mr. Rowe had made. I read the message, I read many responses and I found myself angry at my own blindness of doing what I always have done. I stood in line with everyone else and remembered for "one day" what it felt like. Yet, as I see, we the people, are easily made into sheep headed to the same slaughter but from different sides like the Left Twix vs Right Twix commercials. It doesn't matter what you scream if you wind up in the same package at the end. In that, I realized what we actually forgot. The thing we never should of forgotten but we did and its a shame. This past few months have been a reminder for me of what we, as a nation, have forgotten. What I am going to write next is just as much for me as anyone who reads it. I don't know where it will go but it will be my truth on September 11, 2018.
We have forgotten what was actually attacked on Sept 11th. Yes, people died. Yes, buildings crumbled. Yes, a plane full of strangers took down it down sacrificing their lives in the hopes of saving others. I'd like to think they in fact did do just that. Yes, we were a country united for one brief moment in time. But that is not what was attacked. What we forgot was that the ideals of America was attacked. The way of life that all men and women of this nation are (or should be) afforded by our Constitution. We forgot they attacked our freedom. They divided us. The ripped the very fragile thread that we have used to stitch our flag together out. They succeeded, not in just killing us. Hell, we do that better than anyone else could do to us. They succeeded in making us hate who we are and what we stand for as a Nation. ONE NATION! The saddest part is all they did was crash a few planes and we did the rest.
When that black smoke filled the blue New York skyline we turned unity into rage. We wanted blood for our loss. We wanted someone to pay. The president, Congress and the media gave us a target and we attacked with the viciousness we have been known for as a country. This time it wasn't just an enemy like our fight in Kosovo. It was more, much more, it was an attack on our nations largest religious beliefs. And it was easy. It was easy to turn us lose. Justify not one war but two. We wanted revenge by, as Malcolm X said, "Any means necessary." Instantly some in the nation realized we were about to embark on a familiar road. One that we promised we would "never forget" before. Yes, it was Pearl Harbor all over again. This time instead of "Japs" we would search out "ragheads" or as civilized people might say "Muslims."
We forgot! We sent the dogs out to get them. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines went forward and we celebrated. We made country songs, banners and flags. We were going to destroy this enemy who dared to, as we say in the Navy, Tread on me! (it's actually "Don't tread on me" but that doesn't work for my point). Although we didn't put Americans with Muslim faith in interment camps we did divide the nation. They succeeded. We forgot. We justified the abuse of Americans. Not Muslim-American but AMERICANS. They attacked the very fabric of the thing our men and women in the Armed Forces fight for and we did the work.
Here I am sitting at my table, palms sweaty and a sadness that I don't think I've really felt before when thinking about my country. My people that comprise this nation not of color but of foundation.... American. The fact that there will be people who would spew hate at someone simply because they have a different belief tears the fabric. The fact that for 8 years of President Obama's tenure we hated everything Muslim. We spewed and divided a nation more and more. Now during President Trump's tenure we have moved from hating Muslims to hating "Rich, spoiled, idiot Black athletes" who peacefully demonstrate against an inequality in our nation. We forgot. But this isn't President Obama or President Trump. It isn't about political beliefs or religious following. This is about remembering what we should of remembered the day those planes hit the Twin Towers.
WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA STAND TOGETHER!
We forgot that we are not a Christian-nation, White-nation, Black-nation, Native-nation, Male-nation, Rich-nation, Poor-nation, Gay-nation and so-on and so-on and so-on... We are America. They attacked our equality. They attacked our unity. They attacked the brother and sisterhood we have fought for so long to build. We forgot. We let them do it. They made us react when we didn't need to and they celebrated.
That's what we need to remember. It isn't about the lives lost on a day but about the what we have taken from each because of that day. The men and women who have died before Sept 11th, on Sept 11th and since Sept 11th will have died in vain if we do not come back together as a Nation. ONE-NATION.
I am proud to be an American. I will fight to defend the Constitution of this nation. I will stand with every race, every religion, every sexual orientation because they are all afforded the same rights as I have. I will not let anyone take that away from me. I will not let anyone force me to look at anyone like an enemy simple because they do not agree with me. I will not let myself be forced to hate. I will remember Sept 11th. I will never forget what we have forgotten.