When September 11th first happened, I remember staring up at the television in awe and unable to believe what I was seeing unfold. I remember watching it all happen in Mrs. Alday’s second period English class with my classmates. I remember watching people jump out of the windows of the towers rather than burn alive. Even at the age of 16, I knew on that day, that we were forever changed as a people and as a country. I also remember saying that in the aftermath, that there was no way that America would understand the lesson, of what is perhaps the greatest tragedy of my generation. Turns out, I was right.
Most Americans think that the whole “Never Forget” thing is about the actual date September 11th, 2001. They think it is about the Twin Towers, about the planes that were hijacked that morning, and the people who perished on those four planes and in the buildings. In fact, to me, it has nothing to do with those events at all. It has to do with the feeling of oneness that we had, of unity as Americans, as a people, who for just a little while forgot about their bias’ toward race, religion, nationality, and how we managed to come together as one to help our fellow man get through the most difficult of times. We were all victims that day. Unfortunately, it seems as though this lesson has already been forgotten.
It’s nice that people change their Facebook profile picture for a day and that the news runs stories about those who were affected, but to me, that isn’t supposed to be the point. Yes, it is true that we should remember those people and that, since September 11, 2001, we have come together to deal with tragedies such as Hurricane Sandy or the terrible school shootings that are fast becoming epidemics; but we aren’t really standing up for each other anymore. We aren’t coming together and fighting for our rights that are being taken away, for the freedoms that we have been stripped of since all of this happened. We instead have all gone back to living in our singular, self-centered worlds and once a year say that we will “Never Forget.”
Tragedies happen in America every single day. Children are dying every day in this country, simply because they are hungry. This is America, thegreatest country in the land, and yet this goes unnoticed. Thirty-five thousand people are killed every year due to violent crimes. Where is the support for these families? Better yet, where are the advocates for the victims of our abysmal mental health care system? The families that are losing their homes and being forced into homelessness? What about the veterans who still to this day fight the so-called “war on terrorism?” When was the last time anyone thanked a Veteran? What happened to the mentality of supporting our troops, even though we may not agree with the politics behind their mission? These are fellow citizens, and sadly we have “forgotten” about them. We have forgotten about standing up for them, for standing with them in their time of need and for joining with them in the fight for survival. It is this “oneness” that was the true target of those terrorists 12 years ago, because if we all stand together, we cannot be stopped.
Nobody seems to care about these people, our fellow Americans. Most people go about their daily lives and occasionally donate $10 to the Red Cross via a text message and then move on, feeling good about themselves. Money is important, too important at times, but this isn’t the kind of contribution or ideal that Americans need to focus on and remember. The true question that we should be asking ourselves is, when was the last time you helped a neighbor, just for the sake of helping them? When is the last time you made an effort to stand up for your fellow man? When is the last time we truly exemplified the concept of “E Pluribus Unum?”
Congratulations America, it sadly seems that you have forgotten.