A Highlander’s Tribute to 9/11

Remember the good in humanity on this horrific anniversary


Kyle Hawley , Opinions Editor

Last night. 19 years ago. 2,977 American citizens went to bed, wishing their loved ones good-bye. The first set of victims had their suitcases packed, plane tickets on their nightstand, and ready for the new day. Then there are the second set who were getting ready for bed, anticipating yet another boring meeting or workday for another presumptively average day. Whether it be employees who work in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, they went to bed that night 19 years ago not knowing they would be victims of the most inhumane terrorist attack on American soil.

This morning, on the anniversary of this horrific day, we awakened to a grieving world. Instead of witnessing the shocking footage live for the first time, the media is replaying it to commemorate the day the United States stood still. As we pay tribute, we think and pray for the ones who died that dreadful Tuesday morning. There were the passengers aboard the hijacked planes, attempting to call their loved ones and wish them one last, final farewell. There were the ones stranded within the confines of the destroyed towers, heavily breathing as their blood, sweat, and tears dripped onto an office floor, preparing to collapse in a matter of minutes.

As the towers fell, a new dawn for the globe broke, and witnesses saw the rise of a changed world.

My generation grew up learning the stories of the attacks of September 11th. Some of us were alive prior to the attacks, most of us were yet to be born. Nonetheless, my generation grew up in a society that prioritizes security and protection in order to prevent another large-scale terrorist attack. Older generations feel sorry that we never lived in a more free, open world. As much as I would love to experience a nation before the rise of national security, it is essential the world remains this way. My generation doesn’t know what it is like to tune into a news station at 8:46 AM and witness American landmarks destroyed. That’s the point. We want to keep it that way. We will keep remembering the victims and respect protective initiatives not only because it’s our most humble duty as American citizens, but because we took an oath to never forget.

The sorrow and anger you feel on this day won’t be the leading endeavor ensuring you remember the ones who have fallen. We tend to see the worst of humanity on this day. It makes sense. We mourn for the fallen, grieve for the families pushing forward, and demand accountability from the ones responsible. While we should always feel pain and sadness for the victims and their families, I encourage all of you to see the best of American heroes on this anniversary. Whether in learning about Welles Crawthor (the Man in the Red Bandana), a 24-year-old equities trader who helped at least a dozen people get out, and then died going back in with firefighters to save more… or the passengers aboard United Flight 93, the heroic story of a group of strangers teaming up to take back Flight 93. After news broke of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, four men named Tom Burnett, Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and Todd Beamer formed a plan to take back control of the plane in which they succeeded. Instead of the plane hitting its intended target — believed to be The White House or the Capitol Building — it crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all 44 passengers onboard.

These heartfelt and moving stories remind us to never forget. Selfless actions by heroic American patriots brought light to that darkened-sky day. They brought hope to a moment of tragedy and pain. They reminded us that we were not defeated that day. We rose from the ashes more powerful than ever. The actions of the heroes rewrites the tragedy of the defenseless civilians. Every single 2,977 civilians did not die in vain. Their deaths created a new, more advanced nation. We keep honoring and continuing their legacies by doing one simple, yet painful thing: remembering.

Lastly, today doesn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat. Black or White. Christian or Muslim. It doesn’t even matter if you are an American citizen or a foreigner. This dark day is meant to unite the world against the evils within it. Despite the polarization of every issue, today is when we put our troubles aside and stand strong for the welfare of every civilian. Today reminds us to keep working towards dismantling terrorism established in every country. Today we pay tribute so tomorrow we can move forward. As long as we stand united, we can overcome any challenge arising on our homefront. As for my fellow Americans, today we proudly wave the Star Spangled Banner, honoring and respecting the ones who laid down their lives for us 19 years ago.