Taking a Look Back

As I tossed and turned last night, trying to fall asleep, my phone lit up on my bedside table.

A CNN notification.

Another cop shot and killed. Another son dead, maybe even a dad, husband, father. And for what? Just another day at work. 

September 11, 2001. I remember this day very clearly. I was in fourth grade and the kids were talking about the planes on the playground. I remember my mother stopped by the school, popped her head in my classroom window and waved, and I didn’t know why. That evening, she explained to me what had happened. I watched TV, only to witness the children in the Middle East throw candy at a parade in praise of the successful terror attack. 

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I know I was just a kid, and maybe I don’t remember everything exactly, but I could have sworn that the events on this day brought America closer. People were compassionate, kind, honest, respectful. We came together to help each other, protect one another, feel for one another. But as days, months, years pass, it’s almost as if that moment, those feelings, those events, didn’t even happen.

This year I flew on September 11. I showed up to security just in time to be put on standby for a 9/11 ceremony. At exactly 8:46 a.m., everything and everyone in the airport stopped. There was a moment of silence. A lady sang the national anthem and it blared over the loudspeaker. A large American flag hung on the wall. It was a beautiful and meaningful moment, yet there were people complaining about waiting in line, talking through this ceremony meant to honor the thousands who lost their lives in such a tragic way. 

That night I attended a high school football game. There was no mention of it being September 11. There was no moment of silence among the crowd and players. It was like it was just another day. 

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What happened to respect, America? Where did it go? The problems in this country can somewhat only be blamed on those of us who live here and can only be fixed by those of us who live here. People bash the president like they expect him to be some sort of superhero. The President of the United States is not Superman, Batman or the Incredible Hulk. He’s not God. Heck, he’s not even a sidekick like Robin. He’s just a human being trying to do his job, but people act like he should be able to fix every single problem the way they want it fixed. And they expect it to happen with the snap of his fingers, like he’s a fairy godmother or something. 

I’m not saying people can’t share their opinions of him and other government officials. What I’m asking is, where has the respect gone? It used to be so real. And not just respect for our country and president but also for our neighbors, friends, co-workers, teammates. People were proud to be an American. Proud to live in the land of the free. Now, people abuse America’s freedom, acceptance, awesomeness. 

I wish America could come together again like we did in 2001, and it shouldn’t take another catastrophic event to make that happen. We may not agree with everything that goes on in the world, or even our country, but we should respect it and each other. We can have thoughts and opinions, but we should respect others thoughts and opinions as well. We should stop killing each other, because that’s certainly not fixing any of the problems within our walls. 

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I know these are just wishes of mine. I know some people would scoff at such juvenile thinking, and I know some people will completely disagree with how I feel. But it’s sad seeing people post #NeverForget every September 11 with photographs of the Twin Towers, because the reality might be that America has already forgotten. What are we trying to #NeverForget? The day? The heartache that followed? The way those in power handled it? The way we became prouder to be an American? The way we decided to stand up against those against us? If we truly never forgot how we came together back then, we wouldn’t be acting the way we are today. 

I wish everyone had the chance to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. It’s one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had in my life. I wish people realized they are big enough to make a difference in the lives of others. I wish people would go back to treating others the way they want to be treated. I know life isn’t always butterflies and rainbows, but it would be nice to see respect and kindness come back into this country. And it starts with each and every one of us. We can make a difference, and we should. 

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