Ten Years

I assumed that first period AP Chemistry class that day would be just as it had been for the first few weeks of school. When I walked into the classroom, however,  I knew that something was wrong. The TV was on and I saw that the first tower of the World Trade Center was on fire. I didn’t really know what the twin towers were but I knew that something very bad had happened. As my class sat there in kind of a stunned silence, we watched a second plane explode into the second tower. Then we really knew that things were changed forever. As the rest of the day unfolded and we learned about planes crashing into the Pentagon and into the field, an almost deadly silence settled over our school and over the country. The suspense and fear was palpable. The first thought on the mind of most of my peers was, “What does this mean for the rest of my life? Will we go to war? How will our generation grow up in this new environment?”

Shortly after we learned about the Pentagon being hit the school forced us to turn off the TVs and “go about our normal business.” This infuriated me. This was my country that was under attack. This was my new reality. Yesterday’s “business as normal” was not normal any more. I could not believe that the school administrators thought that we were so immature that we shouldn’t know about what was happening to our country.

After school I went home and attended my mom’s home school English class and LaDawn Jacob’s history class. The class was full of very patriotic young men and women and we spent the whole 3 hours watching the news and talking about what this meant for our country. I remember standing on the front porch with some of the guys and talking about the possibility of our having to change our life plans and having to go to war.

That evening I had to go to work. I worked at a fast food place where business was dead the whole night. Only one gentleman came in, and I talked to him for half an hour. He was an old cowboy from Lehi, Utah, and had seen a lot in his life. He talked about how shocked and angry he was and how he wanted to get revenge on the terrorists.

As the images and stories of heroism surfaced over the next few weeks, I was touched by the greatness of the American people. I respect and honor the firefighters and police officers that risked and gave their lives for those that had been directly attacked. They are examples of the unconquerable Spirit of America and of the courage and bravery of our people.

That day ten years ago changed my life and my world forever. I had grown up with a great pride for America and with the belief that this country was founded by God and that God watched over the welfare of this country. I still hold to that belief. I believe that America is a land favored by God and that He will protect us. My religious belief teaches that God established this country as a place where people would have freedom.

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. . .  That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.” — D&C 101:80

While I mourn and commemorate the events of September 11th, 2001, I also fear that our country has moved itself from this fundamental role of protecting freedom. We have worked so hard at making ourselves safe that we have lost the freedom that our forbears sacrificed and gave their all to build. We don’t want to see airplanes become weapons again, and so we have voluntarily given up our privacy to what once would be considered an unlawful search at airport security checkpoints. We want so badly to catch terrorists that we allow the government to monitor our phone and other conversations without a warrant. We are so afraid of Muslim extremism that we have sometimes denied basic religious freedom to our Muslim brothers and sisters here at home. These and other examples should concern all freedom-loving Americans and cause us to reflect on the cost of this increased “safety.” Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as having said,

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Our founding fathers pledged to each other their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in pursuit of freedom from oppression and tyranny. As we strive to increase our security and safety, we must remember that freedom is paramount. As we remember this anniversary, let us pledge and commit ourselves to not only fight terrorism and tyranny where we find it but also to strive to protect freedom and liberty here. Let us retain the greatness that we have enjoyed by continuing in the goodness upon which we were founded.