11 years ago.
11 years moving forward.
September 11, 2001 was one of the most tragic days in American history. Lives were lost, families were forever changed and a nation banded together in heartache and loss. Many people remember exactly what they were doing that time of day -- I myself was in first grade and learned about the attack on our little outdated TV.
From the ashes of flames and the cloud of debris rose heroes. Some were native to the area, others called in from out of the area, but in essence, all exemplified true character and heroism.
11 years later, we stand.
From the remnants of fears and evil in its purest form rose a nation -- a nation of strength. In life, there are no absolutes, but in this nation there remains absolute determination, absolute will power and absolute fortitude. Woven together by the fabric of individuality, immigration, and innovation, we as a body together paint the silhouette of America. The outline is then shaded in with various cultures and customs all stemming from different areas of the world. Described as a "melting pot" and known as a global force, we are America. Not just me and not just you, but we.
As surely as there are absolutes, there are difficulties. Our economy is still in the process of recovering, our middle class is suffocating and the dreams that were once vividly etched in the crevices of textbooks are slowly becoming erased. In the popular HBO series "The News Room" the question was raised, "What makes America the greatest country in the world?" And for many, the answer is rightfully blurred. Regardless of one's view, post-9/11 proves an absolute truth: "We can be." Somewhere along the lines, we let the threads become loose and the shaded portion begins to dull.
But why can't we outline a nation and color its silhouette once again?
We are letting freedom and opportunity -- a promise this nation was built on -- be threatened. Our education system is failing and our teachers are striking because they feel undervalued. We as a nation need to determine how to value those who instill the seeds of hope and encouragement into those who will lead the nation one day. It is imperative that we rid ourselves of this "statistic" and "score"-based education system. It is time to know the names of those who walk the halls; it is time to know the name of those who are studying hard in the classroom; and it is equally important to know the names of those struggling through the textbooks and beyond. That is how America becomes number-one in education again.
College is becoming a privilege for those who can afford it rather than an available reality for all. It is time that we recognize the hard work of students and reward them with the promise of an affordable future. We as nation can no longer hold our tongue.
War veterans, civil rights activists, and everyday American heroes and citizens are now struggling with various medical bills and living expenses in old age. They have paid their dues and deserve an America that is now working for them.
Friends of friends are losing their houses because they run into unforeseen medical problems and somehow have to pay the cost out-of-pocket because they have not been able to afford health insurance. We must act now and exemplify John Winthrop's truth of "brotherly affection" and the biblical idea that "I am my brother's keeper."
These are not "red" problems or "blue" problems -- but there are red, white and blue problems.
In these 11 years of remembrance, this nation has not forgotten the fallen. This nation has not forgotten the families of those we have lost. This nation has not forgotten the heroism displayed.
And I refuse to believe this nation forgot about me.