You remember where you were plain as day. The image of that day is burned into our memories forever. But enough time has passed since September 11, 2001 that it almost seems impossible to imagine it ever happening again. What about December 7, 1941? When Pearl Harbor was attacked two of my uncles and my 6th grade teacher Mrs. McDougall were there. I remember her telling her story in class one day many years after-the-fact. She was a nurse on base and had stopped at the drinking fountain when everything suddenly went horribly wrong. Her head slammed into the wall and she sustained injuries, minor in comparison, but injured nonetheless. She told her story to hundreds of children. She needed to; it was how she coped with the reality of an enemy whose intent was to destroy us, one person at a time. It wasn’t personal to her as an individual but it was personal to her as an American. It was an invasion in the hope of making us weak and reducing our power. Instead it strengthened our resolve.
The reality for all Americans, regardless of age, sex, color, religion or political party is that many of our enemies have and will continue to try and rob us of our freedom, with the hope of rendering us weak. And while we don’t always get along, and we have a long way to go in understanding each other at times, we agree on one fundamental concept: we are Americans and we have the right to think for ourselves and express our thoughts and opinions freely.
We do this because hundreds of thousands of our countrymen and women over the centuries valued that freedom even more than their own lives. They value it enough to defend it for people such as myself whom they don’t even know. They sign their name on the dotted line when they enlist in the Armed Forces and essentially sign their rights away so that I can keep mine and you can keep yours. And like all those who have gone before them, it’s done knowing full well it might require them to shed their blood, perhaps even their life. What confounds me most about this is it’s done at-will. That is so American!
What if our enemies actually succeed in destroying this land that we love? I don’t think I’ve ever considered that until now. I’m sure it’s because the caliber of the people who are willing to protect us goes beyond themselves. It’s a “we” thing not a “me” thing. There is power and security in “we”. I’m certain that’s why one of my most favorite lines in all of American history is the Preamble to our Constitution which begins with “We The People”.
It would be a powerful testament to the resolve of Americans if the “me” thing and the “you” thing became a “WE” thing in support and thanks to those who willingly sign their rights away for our defense. So this September 11, Put YOUR Boots ON! WE can honor those who died for us and celebrate those who continue to serve, all in one fell swoop! WE can make a statement that WE care. WE acknowledge those who make it possible for us to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now that’s powerful!