The horror of ten years ago was so intense, that my mind switched to survivor mode, even though I only had indirect connections to those killed. Major Leroy W. Homer, Jr., the First Officer on United Flight 93, the aircraft that did not strike its target, graduated from the Air Force Academy well after me. The aircraft that hit the Pentagon destroyed an area with mostly Navy personnel, none of whom I knew. The connection that I, and most of the people killed on September 11, 2001, share is that we are American.
An emotional cocktail of sadness, helplessness, pride, anger, and disappointment fills me when I remember that day. Sadness for all the victims’ families and those who have died since then. Helplessness as I watched other people mobilize, while I stayed home with a baby. Pride for the “warriors,” both civilian and military, who have protected us since the attacks. Anger, not only towards the terrorists, but towards those who use 9-11 as an excuse to promote their own prejudices. Disappointment that the American public did not rally against Al Qaeda when it hit my American friends in Kenya and Tanzania. Disappointment that the wars meant to reduce the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction were, instead, manipulated by policy makers into an arrogant attempt to establish democracy in tribal areas that have no heritage of democracy.
Al Qaeda deliberately offers us this cocktail, served with a sidecar of horror and fear. Do not drink from it. Fear morphs into hate. Resist, with all the patriotism you can muster. Embrace what America has always stood for: freedom, opportunity and equality.
My wish for America on this ten year anniversary is that we rediscover our core values of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom for Americans of all ethnicities and backgrounds to pursue their happiness. God Bless America and Americans.