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I’ll never forget where I was 22 years ago when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Being in the Pacific time zone, I woke up to a call from his wife asking if he was watching the news. News reporters can still hear the shock and see images of black smoke rising from towers and ash-filled streets.
That morning I drove to the presbytery meeting, where I turned on the news and kept an eye on the developments. We ended the meeting early so we could go home to comfort our community. I was pastoring a church in Thousand Oaks, California.
I remember driving home through Los Angeles. The expressway, which is usually packed with cars, was empty. I was one of the only cars on the road. It felt eerie. Gravity was sinking. We knew this was going to be a monumental day.
America will always remember September 11, 2001.
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On that devastating day, four coordinated terrorist attacks smashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people and targeting a symbol of our nation’s economic prosperity and military fortitude. Ta. These events led to the War on Terror, and our nation faced the stark reality that our freedoms were under threat.
As a university president, I recognize that most of our college students were not even born at that time. They hadn’t experienced what we did. For many of us, it is an event as distant as World War I. But they still carry the effects of that day, especially when it comes to airport transfers.
While we mourn and reflect on what happened, there are many lessons that can be taught to college students to recognize the significance of 9/11.
First, democracy is built on courage.
When the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked, firefighters, law enforcement officers, U.S. military personnel, and civilians swung into action to rescue people trapped inside the buildings and under the rubble. An estimated 13,000 to 15,000 people were evacuated, and 20 were pulled from the tower’s rubble.
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The men and women of Flight 93 acted heroically to prevent another attack. That courage rests not only with those who defended their homeland on that fateful day, but also with the men and women who later joined the military and fought in the war on terror.
These brave people remind us of the courage that pervades our history – courage that we need more of today. History records how the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, committing rebellion and risking their lives for freedom. They recognized that the pursuit of freedom outweighed the costs. A thriving democracy requires people who are willing to fight for what is right, even in the face of adversity, fear, risk, and even against the status quo.
We can ignite that courage today by sharing with college students the stories of the heroic men and women of 9/11 who valued humanity and American ideals above their own safety. . and encourage students to contact firefighters, local police, or members of the military to thank them for their service and learn more about what they do to protect our country. I can.
Second, we must stand together.
America came together in the dark aftermath of 9/11. Thousands of people volunteered to clear away the rubble and repair what had been shattered. People lining up to donate blood. Some distributed meals, provided shelter, and helped families survive uncertain times.
Political, religious, and demographic differences have been erased. Hours after the attack, members of Congress across political divides gathered on the steps of the Capitol and sang “God Bless America.” In unison, they sang “God Bless America.” He sang the beautiful words, “My Home Sweet Home”. Written by Irving Berlin, it aspired to celebrate what a special place America is.
America is a place where everyone can achieve similar life goals, dreams of freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. This is a place where unity was prioritized over polarization after the American Revolution. And that is where we pledge to stand as “.”one country, indivisible, endowed with liberty and justice for all. ”
By showing the importance of civil discourse, we can show what a beautiful place America is. One of the greatest threats to our nation is discord. At home and in the classroom, we can teach college students the value of overcoming conflict, respecting different opinions, and reaching consensus for a better tomorrow. As people demonstrated during 9/11, unity is possible when we focus on commonalities.
Third, unwavering resilience will keep us grounded.
Many of us will never forget the sight of three firefighters raising the American flag at Ground Zero. Red, white, and blue shone brightly among the gray ashes. That was a ray of hope. Terrorists destroyed our buildings, but they did not crush the American spirit.
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In the days that followed, 9/11 was often compared to Pearl Harbor, with the 60th anniversary of the bombing a few months away. In his 1941 speech declaring war on Japan, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the United States would prevail through “absolute victory” and “the boundless determination of our people.” Roosevelt knew he could not destroy the foundations on which American democracy was built.
That’s the same strength Americans had on 9/11. As President George W. Bush said on September 11, “These acts have broken iron, but they cannot break the steel of American resolve.” The days after 9/11 were filled with fear, sadness, and pain. Sadness is still there, but it doesn’t define America. Just as she once did, America has rebuilt itself stronger.
For college students to truly understand the events of 9/11, they need to share personal stories about what happened: where we were, and the people it affected. We encourage you to visit her 9/11 memorial in person or virtually. Invite them to participate in her 9/11 commemoration events on college campuses and in local communities. Then discuss how the experience made them feel and what they learned from the experience.
As you learn about the events of 9/11, we encourage you to think about what you would do in the face of tragedy. Who will they decide to become? We all face moments of unimaginable pain, but what we do afterwards is what matters most.
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Like any other tragedy in history, the moment we stop talking about it is the moment it begins to fade into the past. Therefore, we must continue to share the stories…the stories of where we have been (even if it was driving down the freeways in Los Angeles), and the stories of those who were at Ground Zero.
We must always remember September 11th. We must remember those who bravely stepped into disaster to make a difference in the lives of others. We must never forget those who were taken away so soon. And we must never forget the courage of those who defended our freedom.
Click here to read more.Kent Ingle