Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2012

Eleven years ago today, everything changed including the way we saw the world and ourselves.

I work at a high school and have for eleven years now.  Each year, on this day we gather before school and take a moment to remember and reflect.  We take time to recognize the men and women of service, home and abroad.   In the past, we have had large crowds, police and fire truck sirens sounding. Its good to remember this day.  Its part of who we are now.  Part of our country's fabric.

Today, I walked outside the building. The air was cool, the sun shining. I made my way through the students and found the shade of a tree under which to stand for this memorial.  It was not a large crowd, perhaps only 100 students, a handful of teachers and office staff.  I watched the ROTC students come to attention.  I glanced over and saw the fire truck parked there with emergency personnel standing reverently. 

It grew quiet and the ROTC student parted creating an aisle so that the cadets could present the flags.  In the silence I saw our beloved American flag pass with the Texas flag to follow.  In the silence I saw the cadets raise the flags and then lower them to half staff.

With hands over our hearts, we said the Pledge of Allegiance and then sang the national anthem.  There was a brief speech, a prayer and then Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud To Be An American" began to play. It wasn't the normal rendition, this had audio clips from that day eleven years ago.   I stood there and remembered.  I stood in silence with my coworkers and recalled another day, another time when the world seemed to have gone insane. 

As Lee began to sing, I notice the students began to leave.  The song always brings a tear to my eyes and I couldn't understand why the students were leaving.  It was not a signal to leave.  I stood there and watched them gather their back packs and silently leave the area, heading off to class. 

I thought to myself, this generation was maybe five years old when September 11 meant more than the day between September 10 and September 12.  But they had grown up knowing of it, knowing what happened, knowing its horrors.  They might have been young on that day eleven years ago, but why would they not feel the pride Lee was singing about in his song.  I watched them go until it was just the ROTC cadets and the office staff still standing and just a couple of students.  The fire truck and emergency workers stayed.  Some teachers stayed as well.  But my heart was heavy on this day.  Not just for the obvious reasons though.  I felt sad that it didn't seem to matter.  I wondered if most of the students had assembled out of some morbid curiosity and then just lost interest.

I did see this one girl who stayed.  She stood there and sang right along with Lee Greenwood.  As I wiped the tear from my eye, I watched her.  She understood.  She got it.  She knew why we were all there. 

I have to wonder as the years go by, if there ever will be a time again when the young people are proud of their country.  Have we diluted our patriotism so much that it is now unrecognizable?

 If so, exactly how did we let that happen?

No comments:

Post a Comment