I remember the smoke billowing from the towers. I helplessly witnessed as victims jumped to their death to escape the flames and I remember the inferno that poured from a hole in the side of the Pentagon. I remember where I was and what I felt as I watched them burn and the towers later collapse.
I remember the fear in my heart for the safety of my family before all of the planes in the air were accounted for and on the ground. I can still feel the hot tears that ran down my cheeks when the towers fell and watching live as people searched the streets for their loved ones with fliers and pictures as they prayed that someone would bring them good news later that night.
I remember in detail the events of that day. The way that they happened in my life and the way that they played out on the news. I remember the overwhelming emotions and sadness of the day that were not only my own or my family's, but were shared by a nation.
Our country had been sucker punched that day 9 years ago by cowardly terrorists, in the name of Islam, to the tune of almost 3,000 innocent American lives. Our eye was blackened, but our patriotism renewed.
I also remember that just a few miles from my home that there was rejoicing and celebration going on in the streets, that day and for the days that immediately followed, on the part of Islamic radicals that were claiming a victory, as the rest of our nation mourned, watched, hoped and prayed that survivors would emerge from the rubble. They sang and celebrated publicly under the protection of the local police department, who were there to serve and protect despite their personal distaste and visceral feelings toward the goings on, the same as their now deceased brethren had done in New York that very same morning. You never saw these happenings on the news. I saw it with my own eyes.
These were people exploiting and indulging in all of our freedoms and protections as Americans, people who would just as well see all Americans dead. They are much the same as the cowardly sadists that rocketed those planes into the World Trade Center Towers.
Today there is talk of building a mosque just a few hundred feet from where the towers were attacked and fell. There are claims of intolerance, bigotry and Islamophobia against anyone who views this concept as inappropriate or distasteful.
Now, the would be Imam of the proposed Ground Zero mosque, Felsal Abdul Rauf, is willing to exploit and indulge in all of our freedoms and protections as Americans to disrespect the sensitivities of a country that still mourns by choosing a completely inappropriate location to house a mosque. The Imam now warns that:
"Parts of the Muslim world would be violently inflamed at the news of the center's relocation".
Seriously? It's Americans that find the proposed project distasteful, disrespectful, hurtful and offensive that are intolerant? How's construction coming along on that Synagogue in Mecca?
If this is not a victory mosque, as the Imam claims, why wouldn't the ministers of the Religion of Peace be respectful and sensitive to the emotions that envelop that hallowed final resting place? Choosing a different location that wouldn't cause pain and hurt to most Americans would also dis-spell any suspicions or appearances that this is a victory mosque.
The sights and emotions of that day are etched into my soul. The pride that I feel in our great nation and the heroes that sacrificed their lives to save others and watching firefighters erect a flag amidst the ruble. The coming together as a nation and the resolve we shared when we shared this moment:
9 years later, so much healing has taken place that we are able to get caught up in our individual busy lives. Some around the world, and even some within our own borders, have misinterpreted this healing and moving forward as having forgotten or that we have become lax in vigilance and reverence.
Let us stand firm in our resolve as Americans to continue celebrating our freedoms and our way of life. Let us show the world that the black eye that was thrust upon us by terrorists is now a beacon of hope that shines from hollowed grounds in Manhattan, Virginia and Pennsylvania and that we will not have them disrespected. Most of all, let us never forget.