I don’t know if many of you know this, but currently, the flag that flew at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, it is touring the country right now, all 50 states. Today, in my hometown, it made an appearance.
My parents and I decided to spend an hour out of our day and go see this beautiful flag that represents this great country. Attaching it to the ladder of a fire truck, six firefighters and around 10 Army and Air Force ROTC students helped to hoist this wondrous flag into the air, making sure that it never once touched the ground beneath them.
As I watched this symbol of American pride rise higher and higher, the sense of pride flowed through me and I found myself tearing up because of how utterly beautiful this flag was, blowing in the wind.
The mayor spoke, asking everyone to pledge allegiance to this American symbol and I’ll admit, it was quite difficult saying the words because I was so choked up. Hearing them proclaim that this flag flew in remembrance of all those who died on September 11, 2001, it was beyond humbling to be in its presence.
Looking around, I saw firemen, police officers, and young men who wore the uniform. What I didn’t see was a plethora of community members who came out to show their support for this amazing event. No news crews, a few photographs, but that was all. I was immediately ashamed that my community could care less about seeing this piece of history.
I saw several small children remarking about how cool it was to see such a huge flag and I suddenly realized right then that I was amongst those who were not even alive when the towers fell that day. It made me realize just how important events like this one are to the people of this country. I was 16 years old when 9/11 happened and it is something I will never forget, just as my parents remember where they were when JFK was shot, or when the Challenger exploded. These are pieces of history that are etched into our minds…or at least they should be.
Seeing all of these children, I wanted to scream out, “Where is everyone else?!” Why weren’t others in the community here to witness this moment? Shouldn’t this be what we are telling our kids about? That hundreds upon hundreds of people lost their lives that day and the brave men and women who wear the police and firefighter uniforms sacrificed themselves in order to save the lives of others? That 9/11 was a time when people banded together and actually became united?
It broke my heart that people thought so little to attend such an event. Why is it that thousands of people come out to support our college football teams, but they won’t come out to support our country?
Seeing that flag today, it made me realize just how incredibly lucky I am. Not only do I have amazing men in my family who have worn the firefighter and military uniform, and fought to keep this country free, but one of my closest friends just came back from his second tour and is now safely home with his family and friends.
It is events like this one that should bring communities together and remind us that freedom isn’t free; that the United States isn’t invincible; that events like 9/11 will never be forgotten.