Today is that day.
The day thousands of people saw their loved ones for the final time. The day when everyone posts memorial pictures on Facebook reminding you to #NeverForget. The day when you will probably watch the video of the man with the red bandanna.
The day when people ask you where you were on that day.
I was too young to fully comprehend what was happening on Sept. 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. in social studies class, but my teacher Mrs. Roman was not. Even now, nearly two decades later, I don’t believe any of us who were fresh-faced teenagers at the time will ever grasp the full gravity of that day as our adult counterparts did.
We know what happened was horrific, but that was about it. We were kids — it wasn’t our job to understand exactly what was happening or why it was happening. We just knew it was really, really bad. It made our parents and teachers cry, which told all we really needed to know.
Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve seen several people post about Sept. 12, 2001 and what that meant for our country. A time when people came together like never before in my young lifetime. A time when people showed love for this country like never before in my young lifetime. A time that was and still is unlike any other period in my lifetime.
I don’t remember vivid details about September 2001, and perhaps that is for the best. But what I remember is watching people like Rudy Giuliani and President George W. Bush rally the state of New York and the United States to overcome an unspeakable tragedy.
As a 12-year-old kid, it was inspiring to see.
I didn’t know about Democrats or Republicans in great detail at the time. I knew they were the two main political parties, but I probably couldn’t tell you more than a handful of people who belonged to either party. They were just parties to me. People like Giuliani and Bush were just politicians to me.
Sept. 12, 2001 and the weeks that followed was a special time, at least as I remember it… which is why it pisses me off to see so many people use that time as a talking point now.
People are calling for the country to “go back” to Sept. 12, 2001 and unite as we did then while facing yet another uncertain time, but what those people fail to realize is that the world we live in now is nothing like the one we lived in back then.
Back then, people would put others first and lend a spare hand if they had one to help someone else. Now, we have people who refuse to wear a simple face mask to protect others from a virus that has no cure, no vaccine, and has already claimed the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans.
Back then, we had a president who fiercely loved this country and showed it with his actions. He went into the pile of debris and got his pants dirty. He hugged first responders and listened to their hurt, and you saw the compassion in his eyes as he did both. When he spoke, he spoke to the country — not just the people who voted for him.
Now, we have a president who has shown time and again that he loves himself more than this country (or anything in it). A president who uses both the American flag and Holy Bible as props for photographs and video clips. A president who called the same virus that has killed nearly 200,000 Americans a “hoax” by the opposing political party. A president who speaks only to his supporters, unless it is in a scathing tone of voice.
We cannot “go back” to Sept. 12, 2001 because we are not equipped to do so.
Within one day after Sept. 11, 2001, the country put their political and personal differences aside because they understood it was what we needed to do in order to move forward. We trusted the president to lead us out of one of the worst times in American history. We became united.
As I’m writing this, we are entering the sixth month of battling a virus that has killed more Americans than World War I and the Vietnam War combined, that has decimated both small and large businesses, and has forever changed life as we know it… yet some people still cannot be convinced to wear a $0.15 mask for 15 minutes because they believe it either doesn’t work, impedes their breathing ability, and/or infringes on their constitutional rights.
If you want us to “go back” to Sept. 12, 2001, that is never going to happen. And if you’re wondering why, look at your friend who refuses to wear a mask, for starters.