Remembering 9/11

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it has already been five years.

I was a freshman in September of 2001. I had just finished an NROTC class at 8:35 in the morning when upperclassmen were telling us all to go to our dorms and turn on the news. My first glimpse of the World Trade Center, billowing smoke and debris, was in the cafeteria at Frank's Place by the lakeshore dorms. I couldn't finish eating, so I went straight back to my room to watch everything unfold.

There were a half dozen of us in my dorm room when the first tower fell. The only words any of us could manage were: "Oh, my God."

What sticks out most in my mind, besides the horror of seeing the nation under attack, are the images of ordinary people doing extraordinary things that day. As the towers fell and smoke and debris flowed down the streets of New York, heroes rushed in to save as many as they could. Many gave their lives to try and save the ones who were trapped inside.

I remember that it was a day that we put politics aside. The sight of Congress on the steps of the Capitol spontaneously singing "God Bless America" was one of the most moving things I have ever seen.

The story of Flight 93, and Todd Beamer's immortal words: "Let's roll."

Ordinary people became heroes when they refused to give up without a fight.

Let us never forget what happened that day. Let us always remember that our differences didn't seem so important afterward. What was important was that we would survive and that for a brief time, we were closer as a nation than ever before.

The love and kindness we showed one another five years ago was not a fluke. It was real and I pray that we find it again soon.