Why I Remember

A lot can change in 10 years.

10 years ago today, I was in my room getting ready for school and listening to the KASE 101 morning show just like I did every morning.  I heard them say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  The way they were talking about it made it seem like it had been some horrible accident, a small private plane that had malfunctioned somehow.

I went downstairs and we turned on the news.  It was only then that I realized this was a much bigger deal than I had initially thought.  We were watching the news when the second plane hit.  I still remember the sensation: a mixture of astonishment and the startling realization that I did not have the knowledge or capacity to fully wrap my head around what was going on.

For a high school sophomore who was used to understanding pretty much everything that came her way, that realization of my own inadequacy was almost more unsettling than the video footage I was watching.

My mom drove us to school like always, but the halls were much quieter than usual.  I remember sitting in the hallway with my friend, the same way we always did, wondering what would happen if we went to war.  I had friends who were 18, or close to it.  Did we still have a draft?  If we didn’t, would they start one?  Didn’t Dad have family in New York City?  What on earth was going on?

Our principal wouldn’t let us watch the news; he said the best thing we could do was go about business as usual.  If we sat around being scared, the terrorists would win.  Some of the teachers put the news on anyway.

I responded as you would expect any country music-listening, die-hard conservative, ignorant teenage girl from Texas to respond: with excessive patriotism and a thirst for justice.  I was appalled that anyone would dare think ill of the United States, much less actually attack it.  I wanted to see the people responsible for such an atrocity punished, no matter what the cost.  I sang along at the top of my lungs when Toby Keith told the terrorists we’d “put a boot in [their] ass.”

But like I said, a lot can change in 10 years.

As my worldview has expanded, my view of those events and my opinion of our nation’s response has changed pretty drastically.  Obviously, the events of that day were a tragedy, but so is every loss of life.  Lives are lost daily all around the world due to starvation, preventable disease, and wars the United States has shown no interest in getting involved in.

One of the big questions I have pondered in the years since 9/11 is why so much of the church in America seems to view patriotism as one of the highest virtues.  I don’t see patriotism in the Bible.  Yes, Jesus says to “render unto Caesar what is Caeser’s,” but He seems much more concerned with the kingdom of heaven than He is with the nation of Israel.

Am I immensely grateful to live in this country?  Absolutely.  Do I still mourn for the lives lost 10 years ago?  Of course.  Do I still believe the United States was an innocent nation that bravely and altruistically pulled itself up by its bootstraps to defeat its enemies?  Not really.

And do I still love “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue?”  Not so much (in addition to not agreeing with the sentiment, it’s just horrible songwriting.  It only has one verse!).

Right now I am reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah with my 10th graders.  I want them to understand how fortunate they are to be Americans, but I also want them to have a much broader view of the world than when I was in their shoes 10 years ago.


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  • A collection of ramblings and musings on Jesus, life, education, family, and anything else that pops into my head.

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