The past couple weeks, and in fact the past nine and a half years, I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from anger, sadness, frustration, fear, pride and excitement. I’m sure by now, everybody has heard that an elite team of U.S. Navy Seals killed the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, in a fierce gunfight in Pakistan. I woke up Monday, May 2 and was checking my e-mail when I saw a story on comcast.net that said “bin Laden Dead.” I just sat there for a second and made sure I read what I thought I had.
I immediately flipped the television to CNN, and they had a breaking news story about the U.S. military killing the former Al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the horrible terror attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. I’m still in disbelief because it came as quite a shock that we have been chasing this scum bag for almost 10 years in the mountains and elaborate cave system near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Then before everything registers, I found out that we stumbled upon a $1 million compound, and one of our brave men in uniform shot bin Laden in the head!!!
I still remember where I was on that horrific, sad, tragic day when more than 3,000 innocent Americans were killed when highjackers commandeered three planes and slammed them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. I was in my third semester of college and had just gotten to school when I noticed several people huddled around a television in the first classroom as you walk down the hall. The TV was on breaking news, and I saw smoke coming out of the first tower. It really didn’t register what I was watching until I saw the second plane hit, and I think I was still in shock and really couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
While I was sitting in class, I remember a few people still talking about it, and still trying to fit my head around what I was seeing and hearing. I was still pretty young, 19 years old, and the concept of terrorists slamming planes into the WTC towers seemed unimaginable. I’d never really heard about terrorism before September 11, but now we hear it all the time.
I remember driving home and think I remember hearing the news on all the radio stations I was flipping through. When I got home I turned on the television and saw all the carnage; people running for their lives; paramedics, police officers and firemen racing to get people to safety. I remember seeing the looks of horror, sadness and disbelief on the people’s faces who were running away from the towers and the sounds of sirens filling the New York air.
It was at THIS moment, seeing all of the smoke, terror, panic and destruction that it FINALLY hit me like a ton of bricks that America was under attack. My first thought was HOW the hell could ANYONE take out two towers, kill thousands of innocent people and cause such destruction? All I knew was that once President George W. Bush and his administration found out, there was definitely going to be hell to pay, a war this world has never seen, and the terrorists who did this would soon find out why the men and women of the U.S. military are some of the bravest men and women on this PLANET!!
THEN I find out that there was a fourth plane that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. I can’t remember where this plane was headed, I think it was to the White House, but I have to say I have NEVER been more proud of complete strangers taking charge and overpowering those damn terrorists before any more lives were lost. I cannot even fathom how scared they were and how much courage it took to come together to form a game plan to fight those scum bags in the cockpit and take the plane back over. I would PERSONALLY like to congratulate each and every one of those brave passengers on that flight for opening up a big ol’ case of American whoop @$$ on the terrorists and having the idea to crash the plane in the field to avoid more destruction. Who knows what would have happened if they hadn’t taken the plane down??
I remember the days and weeks following the attacks, I felt this AMAZING sense of pride for my country, and a stronger determination by America to NEVER back down when we are threatened. I remember seeing the cleanup efforts going on in New York and Washington and remember feeling so sad for those families who will never get to see their mom, dad, brother, sister, daughter or son again.
But the ONE single image that will live with me FOREVER is the picture of our president, George W. Bush, standing side by side with a fire fighter with a bullhorn in his hand. I remember there was a crowd gathered around and they were chanting something. I remember the president saying something and one guy yelling, “We can’t hear you!!!” President Bush yelled back, “Well, I can hear you. America can hear you. And soon the people who took these buildings down will hear ALL of us soon!!!” I still get chills and a lump in my throat when I think back on this show of patriotism by our president, and the fact that he took the time to visit Ground Zero to visit with the families and the emergency personnel who were working night and day to rescue people. I’ve never been more proud of my country and our president than I was at that moment because I knew, I KNEW, America would be okay, and we would overcome and be stronger than ever before.
Before I go any further, I have to admit that after a couple weeks of watching the cleanup efforts on the news, I was starting to get a little tired of hearing about September 11. I know you’re probably thinking, “That was one of the most terrifying, horrific, tragic days in America’s history. How could you say such a heartless thing like you’re tired of hearing about it?”
What I mean is I was tired of seeing people suffering, people crying and the rescue efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, nonstop. Sure it’s okay to see once every two or three days, but if there’s nothing new to report, leave it alone. I am sure I’m not the only person who got tired of hearing the same things over and over again. I knew I needed a new outlet to kind of ease the sadness and heartache I was feeling, so I turned to one of the best sources of healing for me: music.
I am a big country music fan because the artists sing about real life, love, hope, God and family. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that country music would help get me through the pain, sadness and heartbreak I was feeling inside after September 11, and was I EVER right. I immediately started listening to all the music I could, whether it was on the radio in my room, in my van on the way to or from class, or my CD player.
One of the artists I have always loved is Alan Jackson because his songs are straight from the heart and are so full of emotion, patriotism and hope for a better tomorrow. I remember watching the Country Music Association awards a couple months after the attacks, and remember Alan singing one of the GREATEST songs ever, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” He wrote the song shortly after the attacks, and it really, really made me step back and praise God for the life I have been given because you never know when it will all be taken away in the blink of an eye. I remember clinging to every word of that song and feeling the powerful emotion when Alan sang it live on the awards show. I almost cried the first time I heard it, and still to this day get emotional and feel an overwhelming sense of pride for America and its resolve to overcome obstacles when faced with adversity. America can achieve anything it sets its mind to when we all pull together and work together to have each other’s backs and help each other in times of need. I want to personally thank Alan Jackson, wherever he may be, for writing one of my favorite songs of all time, and for reminding us to never, EVER forget where we were when the world stopped turning.
Now, getting back to the Navy Seals and their heroic efforts when they took out Osama bin Laden. I wish I could find them and thank each and every member of Seal Team Six for risking their lives to eliminate one of the worst enemies America has ever known. I want every member of the U.S. military to know how much I respect, admire and love them for risking their lives every single day to protect our freedom at home and abroad. We never asked you to go out and defend your country. You took it upon yourselves to fight for what you believe in and defend the freedoms we’ve been given, and for that I will be forever grateful. I just hope America agrees with me that our military is the most AMAZING fighting force the world has ever seen and will take the time to thank a soldier, airman, sailor or anyone else in uniform for putting their lives on the line for you. It doesn’t have to be someone who is serving/has served in the military, either. Thank your local police officers, fire fighters, emergency personnel, paramedics and anybody else who goes out to help others when their lives are in danger.
As I close, let me say what an honor and a privilege it is to live in the most AMAZING, GREATEST country in the world, the United States of America. I love this country so much and would not want to live anywhere else. Thank you to all those who keep our country safe while I sleep in peace at night. It is because of you that I am able to get up every day, praise my Heavenly Father and go live my dreams. I’ve achieved so much the past three or four years, but will never, EVER forget the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice so I can live my dreams. God Bless America!!!