As the tenth anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 approaches, I think about all that has happened in our lives. A couple of years ago, my family and I traveled to Washington D.C. and New York City. What an amazing trip. I cannot even begin to explain what it meant to visit these places. One of the many things that thrilled me was all of the American flags everywhere. Buildings, businesses, restaurants, and homes were flying the flag. It was beautiful. As we flew into New York, I could see the Statue of Liberty from the air. It was such a thrill to see her for the first time, as this was my first trip to New York City. After arriving there, we went to see Ground Zero. The sadness and heartbreak was so overwhelming. We walked the blocks around where the World Trade Centers had been, seeing reminders of 9/11 everywhere. For instance, there were memorials to honor the fallen and inspirational messages for people to see all around the area where the Centers once stood. There was a temporary museum close to the site that was put into place to honor the thousands who had died and all of the firefighters, many of which had died saving lives. I began to see that so much love and caring had been put into this. There were people there from all over the world showing respect. RESPECT, what a beautiful thing to see. There is a place within the museum that you can write down on a card what you were doing and feeling on that day, September 11th. You can write your feelings, a prayer, or whatever you like. The museum keeps the remembrance cards in books and posts them all over the walls so that people may read them. I started reading what people had written. Looking at them, I realized that they were not just written by Americans. They were written in languages from all over the world. It was truly amazing the heartfelt words that people had put down on paper. Then, as I looked around, so many people, from all different walks of life, different nationalities, and different faiths were showing grief and loss for the tragic events of September 11th. Emotion, warmth, and LIFE were coming back to a place that had seen so much sadness.
After we had visited the World Trade Center museum, we walked to St. Paul’s Chapel, a church that was across the street from the Trade Centers. Every building around this little church had been damaged, but no harm had fallen on St. Paul’s. Not a single window had been broken in this old church that was built in the 1700’s. It is the oldest public building in New York City. This holy place of worship is where firefighters, emergency workers, rescue personnel, and volunteers came for food, a place to rest, and shelter during the devastating days and weeks that followed that day of tragedy. It is also a place where people from all over the world sent messages of love and kindness, words of hope, and inspiration that helped and comforted these people that were working so very hard. The church hung all of these messages and gifts all over the walls of the church. Again, there was a great feeling of LIFE.
Life is coming back. People are working together to rebuild. There are new buildings rising again. There are new trees and flowers growing in plazas. The streets are once again filled with people. Businesses are once again beginning to thrive in that area. Buildings that were covered in ash and soot are still being cleaned and washed. Life is filling the streets once again. As we walked and looked up at the buildings, American flags were everywhere. Hanging from new buildings under construction and from old buildings that are being cleaned and brought back to the beautiful state they once were in. The beautiful American flag was everywhere. The goodness and love from people in our country and from all over the world, helping us to heal from this great sadness, is so inspiring. I now understand what the UNITED STATES really means and what our flag stands for, BEING UNITED. United for freedom. Freedom is a precious gift. We should not abuse it, but cherish it. Our flag symbolizes hope and unity. No matter what, I will always love this beautiful country and be proud to be an American. The sacrifices that so many people have made, like the firefighters who rush in to save a life, our emergency and medical workers who rush in to keep a heart beating, our service men and women who rush in to save and protect our country. America truly is the home of the free because of the brave, true heroes that have been faithful to OUR America.