Eventually, I had to get up and walk down to the bus stop. All of us kids were in shock as we found our seats on the school bus. Everyone was saying things like, "Did you hear about what happened?" "I heard that a plane crashed into the Pentagon and some random field in Pennsylvania too." "The person on the news said that people in the Middle East hijacked the planes." When we arrived at school, Bailey and I found our little circle of friends and we tried to piece together what had happened with the limited knowledge that we had. The bell rang and I made my way through the swarm of whispering middle-schoolers to my English class. The principal came over the intercom and started talking about what had happened that morning. I don't remember what was said but I remember a substitute teacher singing God Bless America for the whole school to hear. My teacher, Mrs. Race, sat and wept at her desk. After the song was over, Mrs. Race asked us if we would like to share our thoughts. Since at least one of the planes was on its way to San Francisco when it was hijacked, a couple of people in my class actually knew some of the passengers. It all became very real to me and, even as a seventh grader, I realized that there were people in the world who wanted me dead just because I was an American.
Since September 11, 2001, the world has become even more volatile and dangerous. Everything we hear on the news seems to be about war and corruption and devastation. But my way of remembering and honoring those who lost their lives on that fateful day has been an increased resolve to live by our country's ideals. We are a country built on the foundation of overcoming hardship, of breaking past barriers and exploring new frontiers. We are a nation of innovators and people who fight for what they believe in. Our government was formed on the idea of freedom and that we all have value. Let us all remember to be the best that we can be to honor those who have died to protect those ideals and that freedom. God Bless America!