I was 19 years old that September day. I remember sitting in my car outside the humanities building at Montgomery College. On the radio was a local morning show. It was silent except for the murmured "I can't believe this" from the DJ. I remember driving home, looking at the sky as if to spot the next weaponized plane. Terror made my mouth sour and my breath hitch. At the time my grandparents were in New York. Grandpa watched the towers fall. He served in WWII and said he'd never experienced anything like that moment. Many of us remember the reactions of our parents even more than our own. Our sense of safety was in tatters that day. So, we came together. All of us. To share our strength and our love of our country.
15 years have passed. America and Americans have had their ups and downs. Sometimes it seems as if we are in the middle of a family fight with everyone yelling at each other yet no one feeling heard. America the Beautiful doesn't mean there aren't challenges and issues to be overcome. It means great good and beauty exists in our very human nation. Individuals of every creed, color, orientation, religion and ethnicity choose to give their lives in service to our nation and our people. They do it through the military, law enforcement, fire service, and schools. They do it through a myriad of organizations, through volunteerism and simple kindness to their fellow human beings. To those who serve, in whatever capacity, we are a family. It doesn't mean mistakes don't happen. It doesn't mean Americans aren't human and fallible. We are a family. Families have issues. Let us be the family who works together to find the solutions.
With her huge variety of religions, cultures, and perspectives, America herself exemplifies the diversity found in her people. We are a family and it's up to us all to ensure the values on which this country was founded remain a part of our narrative. God Bless America.