As We Remember the Past, We Must Prepare for the Future

Today marks the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on our nation. We are reminded of the destruction and loss of thousands of lives.

That morning, I remember sitting in my first grade classroom watching the television. I wondered why these acts were important enough to interrupt my reading class. My 6-year-old brain could not understand the severity of the attacks or how they would affect our nation’s future.

When I got home from school that day, my parents were watching the news. The terrifying scenes seemed to be on a loop, and every time they played on the screen, showing the planes crash into the twin towers, I finally began to understand. I became more frightened and realized that maybe my home in the seemingly indestructible United States was not as safe as I always thought.

In the coming weeks, I worried that planes would crash into my school or someone would take over my bus on my way to school in the morning. Even though those scenarios were highly unlikely since my town contained no more than two bars and a gas station, the fear was real.

Though most of that day’s tragedies aren’t always on our minds, we do need to remember this horrific event. I am thankful that I no longer have that same unnerving feeling of an attack as I did as a first grader. I need to take a few minutes on this day to remember that feeling, though, and to be thankful that our troops no longer have a substantial presence in the Middle East.

As President Obama prepares our nation for airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Somalia and Yemen, I remember the fear I had as a young girl facing the unknown fate of our nation. Today, we are reminded of more than our loss on September 11, 2001. We are reminded that the fight for freedom is not easily won and that the war against terrorism will continue.

Grace Ebert

geber176@uwsp.edu

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