Never forget

It seems like just yesterday I was driving to school when I heard the news.  For a second, I thought it was the radio station (well-known for ridiculous pranks) playing a sick joke.  It was far from a joke... that fateful day, pure evil showed its face in an attack that shook us, as a country, down to the core.

19 hijackers boarded 4 airplanes with the intention of bringing this great country to its knees through a horrendous act of terrorism.

3 of the 4 airplanes successfully hit their targets:
The World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon. 
The 4th- Flight 93- was brought down by some courageous heroes on board the plane.  They were aware of the first set of attacks and overtook the hijackers, causing the plane to crash in a field in Pennsylvania.  Everyone on board died, but they caused the hijackers to miss their intended target and likely saved hundreds or thousands more innocent lives.

2,977 innocent people lost their lives that day. *
Two thousand nine hundred seventy seven.

Mothers, fathers, children, firefighters, police, EMS personnel, military personnel, heroes... Americans.

May they rest in peace.

I remember, like it was yesterday, sitting on my bed with tears streaming down my face as the news channels played scrolling lists of all those that had been confirmed dead.  I will never forget the pictures of the hundreds of missing posters that were taped up outside for months after. 
The whole event changed me and stirred something inside of me.... and not only me, but many many of my fellow Americans.  Patriotism.

Watching those firefighters run storming into the building to save anyone they could...
watching men and women in business suits covered in ashes helping to carry others to safety...
watching the tributes, the funerals, and listening to the heartbreaking stories of the survivors and widows... it moved me... it moved us all.
Their senseless acts of hatred did not bring us to our knees... well... maybe to pray for the souls of those who had perished.  But in the end, we did not cower before the terrorists.  We brushed ourselves off, suited up and headed out with a vengence to kick their ass.
It seems like, unfortunately, over the past few years, that fury of patriotism has somewhat died down.  Our military no  longer has the level of support that it did in the months and years immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001.  We, as a country, have become softer and willing to compromise our own precious freedoms to protect the comfort of others.

I hope and pray that the anniversary of this tragedy will cause us to remember the way we felt on that terrible day, our hearts breaking with sorrow for all that was lost and our fists clenched, ready to protect and defend what is ours.

To the souls lost on that fateful day and the days following,
to our military men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice...

To the friends, family, loved ones or anyone else in any way affected, I offer you my thoughts and prayers for continued healing.

To my fellow Americans... never, never forget.
I love this country.

*You may notice that number is a little low.  The actual death toll was 2,996.  The missing 19?  Yeah... those were the hijackers.  I don't really count them as innocent... nor do I pray that they rest in peace.  They can burn.