Ten years ago I was just leaving a morning class at my alma mater when a fellow student told me that our country was under attack from unknown enemies and that people were dying in New York and D.C. From the sheltered bubble of our school the rest of the world usually seemed far away and somehow unimportant to our daily lives. But this day was different from any other that we had seen.
The school administration made special announcements to inform us that the stories we had been hearing were true. Planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They told us that they would be leaving on the televisions in our residence halls so that we could track the ongoing events. For a moment of time our bubble was shattered and the world outside came rushing in.
The few days that followed were some of the most memorable of my entire college career. People everywhere were a little kinder and a little more considerate. Our petty concerns were superseded by a concern for our country. For those of us who were natives of the land our identities of religion or background were superseded by a single word: “American.” And when they sang God Bless the USA in student body we all stood and sang along.
Now, a decade later I watch again the images of that day to again feel the horror of the human loss and marvel at the bravery and sacrifice of our police, firefighters, and emergency workers. And I thank God for this country where I have been blessed to live and the people who I have been honored to call friends and countrymen. Many I knew that college and shared that day with have since served on foreign soils to protect those same freedoms that we hold dear. And I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Sometimes it takes terrible events to shock us from our obsession with the mundane and surprise us with our own common humanity. It is a shame that is must be so.