Never forget

In 9th grade English class, I watched a plane fly into the second tower of the World Trade Center on live television. I saw both buildings come down. I saw people jumping from the building to their death. No one spoke. It was an eerie silence that cannot be replicated. It was something that couldn't be fathomed. This...is not happening. For weeks, I repeatedly thought about those images. I watched live as a plane flew into a building instantly killing hundreds of people. I watched as the building collapsed killing even more. But what bothered me the most is that every second, I was watching someone lose a father. Someone was losing a mother. Someone was losing a husband. Someone was losing a wife. The picture of the 2nd plane will be in my memory for the rest of my life. It's an image more vivid than others. And every time I see that plane hit, I see families losing loved ones. I asked the same question everyone did. Why?

So after ten years, what have we learned as a country? I think those things are apparent: patriotism, love, heroism, among others. The bigger question is what have we failed to learn? We have forgotten to love those who are different. We have forgotten to love those who believe in a different god. We have forgotten to love those who don't think like we do. This country was founded so that we are free to believe in whatever we choose. You have just as much of a right to believe in the teachings of Jesus as a Muslim does in Mohammed. This country was not founded on the god of Christianity. It was founded on freedom of religion. Freedom of choice. Freedom of speech. Have you ever seen a Muslim on the side of the road holding a religious sign? Probably not. Because they are persecuted. I use Muslims as an example because it is the most apparent, but other religions apply.

Religion aside, I think people forget that this country is far from perfect. But we learn. And we adapt. How different are we than the ancient Egyptians? The very people who read and preached Exodus and the Jewish slavery in Egypt were slave owners in America. We cannot do something and say it's "ok" just because we are in America. We forget the basic principles of everything every hero has died for. Religious wars will never end until the world does. Instead of trying to fight and argue, unite. Unite as a country, not a religion. Unite as a country, not a race. The hero's that have died for us did so for us to be free. We are free to worship our own god. All races are free to live without bigotry. We are free. And we will never unite as a country until we understand that. All of the major religions share the same basic principle of loving your neighbor as yourself. Yet, so often we cannot do that. Jesus himself said that this was the most important commandment along with loving God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. You cannot choose your neighbors. Just like you cannot choose the people you encounter. Love them. All of them.

Extremism is not what I'm talking about. So don't get me wrong. There is no place in this country for any person that threatens or takes the lives of others. The Christian extremists that protest funerals...there's no room for them. The people that did this to our country ten years ago...there's no room for them. Extremity of any religion is never a good thing. Forcing religion on someone is never a good thing. "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance during the Cold War as well as "In God We Trust" on our currency. I'm not a history major, nor have I done research on the subject...but I would believe that other religions aren't too happy with that. Don't ever force your religion on someone else. Share it. And share it with love. Share it with respect for whatever the other person might believe. Share it with freedom in mind.

Believe what you wish. And believe in it with all of your heart. But don't ever tell someone what they should believe. This country was not founded on a single religion, but the freedom to choose. But most importantly, never forget those who died on September 11th, 2001. Never forget the families that will forever have an empty chair at the dinner table. Never forget the heroes that gave up their lives to save others. Never forget that they died because of religious extremism. Never forget that we are free. Never forget.


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