9/11. There are so many memories and emotions I get when I think of that day eight years ago. It doesn’t seem that long since my sister called to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was already at work and all we had was a radio to listen to, a radio that didn’t do justice to those tragic events. The second plane. Planes crashing. The Pentagon. Buildings collapsing. People dying.
At the time, some of my best friends were a group of guys from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait. The word “terrorists” was starting to float around and I was getting nervous. After work, I went to their house. I had always loved to argue with them about their feeling towards the US of A. They always swore that their countries loved American people, just didn’t care for our government. As we watched the news and cried together, I knew they were telling the truth. It was a horrible day for all of us.
Harold and I went to mass that evening. I remember that I hadn’t seen our church so full in a very, very long time. I was so sad... sad for the poor people who had died, sad for our country, sad for myself. It was then I realized I was proud to be an American. Growing up, I was conflicted at times as to who I was. Was I Hispanic? Was I American? My dad told me I was both but it didn’t seem possible. I always thought I was just Hispanic, that’s what I checked off on my ACT tests and many other forms, but as I sat in church and listened to my Priest speak I knew it wasn’t true. This country was great, its people were wonderful and we were all finally pulling together... praying together. I was an American and I was honored to be one. The country was devastated but proud and I was proud with them.
A couple of weeks later, two of my Middle Eastern friends got jumped leaving a bar and I met them at the hospital. I was sad once again. What happened to the honor? What happened to the unity? Why did it only apply to “Americans” and no one else? Why does there have to be division?
I think about that today. We’re a country fighting over healthcare, the economy, who’s right, who’s wrong. Where did our honor go? Why can’t it be like that day, when we hugged and cried with perfect strangers in church? Why does it take a tragedy to unite us but a difference of opinion to divide us so quickly again? Why don’t we feel honored to be able to take care of our neighbor instead of cheated? Where is that pride and unity?
All those lives weren’t lost in vain, I believe we’ve learned a lot since 9/11. I believe I’m a better person, still with plenty of room for improvement, but still proud to be an American.