The heart of America is heavy today. My heart is bleeding today.

Today is a somber day in America. Today is the tenth anniversary of the attack on September 11, 2001. Today, our nation reflects. Today, almost 3,000 families are still trying to heal. More than 70 countries lost citizens. 1,122 victims remain unidentified. This means 1,122 families have not been able to bury their loved one's body.

I remember that day clearly, as every person in America who was old enough then to process what was going on. I was a freshman in college, thoroughly enjoying my first semester at a local community college. A classmate came into our first class and told us she had heard on the radio that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. We soon found out that another plane had struck, and our beloved country was under attack from some unknown foe. That's was the longest class I believe I have ever sat through. I kept praying the 50 minutes would pass quickly. All I wanted was to go home. As soon as that class, my first of the day, was over I got in my car and drove straight home.

Sawyer was there, watching the live coverage on one of the national 24-hour news stations. His aunt had called him with the news. We sat and watched, speechless as the horrors of the morning filled our television screen and our minds. We watched the Pentagon get hit. We watched footage of the plane downed in the field in Pennsylvania, a large tragedy averted by the heroics of the passengers, but still no less a tragedy.

And we wondered, when will it stop? How many more planes are out there, aimed at our beautiful America? What if they (whoever THEY are) aren't using just planes? How will the people stranded by the grounding of all air traffic get home? Why us? Why our country? What could make a person harbor so much hate in their heart that they would plot to destroy an entire country?

And I cried. I cried for the innocent. For the children who lost a parent. For the parent who lost a child. For the ones who lost a spouse. For anyone who lost a sister, brother, cousin, grandparent, friend. I cried for our country. I cried at the absolute injustice of the cowardly attack. I cried in rage that someone would do this in OUR country. I cried for the emergency workers, who ran into those buildings to save as many as they could. It seemed I cried all day. It was too much for me to process. My mind, finally numb from the images and terror and outrage and crying, finally shut down. I could take no more that night.

I watched over the next days and weeks and months. I watched the memorials and vigils. I watched as the smoke finally cleared. I watched as people began to pick up the pieces. I watched as, slowly, the names of the victims were released.

And I watched as people did anything they could to help. They donated blood. I watched as people helped those stranded find their way home. I watched as people donated time and money. I watched as American pride and patriotism swelled in each of my neighbors, both local and 3,000 miles away. I watched as each of my fellow Americans did anything and everything they could to help.

Ten years later, a lot has changed. Travel is more difficult. Security tightens every time the government hears an increase in what they call "international terrorist chatter." We will never go back to the days before September 11, 2001. We will never feel truly, completely safe in our home.

Every year, as we mark another unwanted anniversary, I still feel the terror of that day fight to close in on my mind. Every time I see images from that day fear stabs me in the heart, for just a few moments. Every year, I cry for those who lost so much that day. This year, I think, it's worse.

The news anchors and so-called experts all said this would be my generation's "Pearl Harbor." I don't doubt that. I know I will always remember exactly where I was and who I was with when I got the news of the attacks. I will always remember how horrified and helpless I felt. I will always remember the anger and sorrow. I will always remember the ocean of tears I cried that day. I will always remember my pride in my fellow Americans in the aftermath of those events. I will never again take my freedom for granted.

I will never forget.


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