On September 11th 2001, will be a day that will live infamy for generations of Americans. A moment in time seared into collective minds of millions. It is the day that America stood still. A moment so impactful and consequential that the international community held their collective breath as they witnessed America being attacked.

Americans around the nation and aboard watched upon their tv screens as the economic epicenter of this nation was being attacked. We watched with bated breath and horror as two hijacked commercial airliners collided into The World Trade Center. Only a couple short hours later those towers would come crashing down upon the streets and people of New York City. In its demise leaving only the twisted metal heaps and concrete remains of these once great pillars of American industry and prosperity remained.

Destroying the great symbol of American prosperity and strength. On this day the world changed forever. Even, now it is a day I remember with intense clarity. I remember vividly where I was when the world changed forever.

I was sixteen when the Towers fell. I remember the day with a pristine clarity, as if it only happened yesterday.

My morning started off the same. My mom dropping me off at school. Going to my first class, which was English that semester. I remember going to class as normal. Nothing of out of the ordinary. It was when English was over and heading to my History class I began to notice something different. As, I walked the campus halls I noticed students visibly upset and crying about something. I didn’t know what the event was that made everyone so emotional but, I would soon find out. I remember seeing one of my friends in the hallway and I ask, “What’s going on, bro? Why is everyone so upset?”

That is when he tells me two jets have hit the World Trade Center. I was initially skeptical of his assertion. He replies, “Nah, Drew I’m serious. Two planes hit the towers.” As, we are walking to History he updates me with what he knows from news reports from watching tv during his first period class. The reality of the situation starts to hit me. That this actually happened. Then, I remember walking into our History class and upon the tv was video footage of the second plane hitting the tower.

I watched that footage in silent dread. I didn’t know how to process what was unfolding upon my teacher’s tv. At, that moment I felt truly empty. A emptiness I have never felt before or since. As, I continued to watch the news I slowly moved to my desk and sat down. My focus squarely upon the events as they are unfolding before me. I did not know when I began to cry yet, there I was with a stream of tears down my face. That day struck a cord in my soul and stirred my spirit like never before.

I remember the images upon my tv screen of the brave men and women of NYPD, NYFD, and EMS that risked their lives that day to save their fellow Americans. Running into danger in the hope of saving one life. Knowingly and readily sacrificing their own. Compassion, courage, and sacrifice are the truest strengths of the American people. These values were on full display on that fateful morning in September. Not only by our brave first responders. Also, by other brave men and women answering the call of those in need.

The tears I cried originally weren’t tears of pain and sorrow. They were tears of anger and hatred. I wanted everyone involved in the planning and coordination of these deadly attacks killed. I wanted them to know all the pain and sorrow of a nation. I wanted them to understand our wrath and immense cruelty we could inflict. Only their deaths and destruction would satisfy my soul and appease my anger.

As, I said before, those initial tears where of anger and hatred. Then, those tears slowly morphed into tears for the thousands of Americans who where at The World Trade Center. My heart went out to those Americans who witnessed the horror of those events unfold firsthand. To the people inside The World Trade Center calling loved ones. Telling their parents, wife, husband, and children their last, “I love you.” Knowing and reluctantly accepting a horrible fate and reality. That death has come. Now, they impatiently wait for their demise. They begin making peace with themselves and the Almighty. Experiencing all of their life from beginning to end, in a flicker of an eye. They wait with no recourse for them to preserve their life. Only having the ability to wait fearfully for their impending death, is a agonizing fate that no human should ever have to endure.

The flood of emotions experienced on that day are numerous and everlasting. Those events shook me to the core. It shook a nation to its core. Even twenty years after the tragic and life altering event, it is still fresh in my memory when I think back. It feels like it happened yesterday. The emotions still raw and gritty. My heart that still aches in pain and burns in the hellfire anger and hatred for the terrorist who committed these atrocities. Moments that I look back on this day brings me to tears. Emotions that overwhelm my spirit. Moments that shall never be forgotten.

On September 11th, the world witness the strength and resolve of the American people. We were angry, dejected, and lost. Yet, in that same moment our spirit of defiance, tenacity, and camaraderie stood tall. As, a nation we mourned. As, a nation we rebuilt. As, a nation we continue to heal. We would not let this moment define us and cower in the corner. We stood defiant and strong. Our will to fight for our freedoms and liberties are strong. We would not be intimidated by those who seek to terrorize us over an dogmatic religious ideology. In this country this would not stand. Freedom, Liberty, and the rights of the individual would stand against the evil of men.

After twenty years the events of September 11th, the pain and trauma still runs deep for countless Americans. The most extensive attack on American soil by a foreign entity since Pearl Harbor. For my generation it is our Pearl Harbor. A defining moment where we unleash war upon our adversary. These moments in time defined a generation and America. Moments that forever changed the course of American History in significant way.

On this day of remembrance we should take a moment to remember the 2,977lives that where lost on September 11th. Lives stolen from innocent Americans living their lives peacefully. These terrorist acts of cowardice stole the lives of sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. Stealing moments that will never be shared, hugs and kisses that will never be given, and missing the important moments in life. Stolen by evil men who hold on to the beliefs of dogmatic religious ideology. Today, we stand in remembrance of all those who have died. Stand tall and honor them.

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