The now-famous last words of Todd Beamer as he and other passengers of Flight 93 attempted to re-take the plane have become a rallying cry around the world for Americans. Be it various armed forces groups using the words as motivation or bands and artists crafting songs around them, the nation found a voice to get them motivated to make a difference. Back then.
Now? It seems like a lot of the passion we once displayed has dissipated. We’re in a recession we’re slowly coming out of. We’re at war with nations most people couldn’t find on a world map. Politicians have once again become the target of many people’s ire. Publicity-demanding people do whatever it takes to get in the news, regardless of the merits of their actions.
Nine years after our generation’s rough equivalent of Pearl Harbor, it seems like life has mostly returned to normal. We mourned the losses, steeled our resolves, and went back to work, whether it was at our jobs or in school or the armed services. Although our nation has stumbled at times, it has never fallen, a testament to the willpower of a determined nation.
I can’t figure out whether the fact that life has returned to normal is a good thing. I remember walking into a used-book store about five years ago and seeing a stack of books about September 11 and the aftermath. “Has it really become this irrelevant so quickly?” I asked myself.
This was an event that impacted not only the New York area, but everyone nationwide. I was a senior in high school when my homeroom teacher, Mr. Mohan, ran in the room, said someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center, and turned on the television in the room. At first, I thought it was just a small private plane that hit it, but as the events unfolded throughout the day, classes essentially stopped. Learning took a backseat to reacting. I had to go into work after school, and understandable, nobody was in the store. I think we counted five transactions the whole night.
It was as if life stopped.
But something remarkable happened in the aftermath. From tragedy, opportunity was borne. Rather than bicker, people became united in their desire to rebuild, to grow from the moment on. The country embraced one another, and for the first time in a long while, I found meaning in the term E pluribus unum.
“From many, one.”
We need to remember the unity this nation once celebrated in the aftermath. From time to time, we need to be served reminders of what happened and how powerful our response was. In expressing our solidarity, we were proud to be Americans, not ashamed.
We need to remember those who perished in the tragedy. Those brave few of Flight 93 who worked to prevent a larger loss of life through the sacrifice of theirs. Those who have proudly served in our armed forces, standing vigil to protect against another unspeakable horror.
Time has given us the chance to mourn and move on.
To heal old wounds.
But it should never be cause for our voices to be muted, especially in a world full of hostility, where our silence resonates loudly.
“Vox clamantis in deserto.” A lone voice cries out in the wilderness.