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The Real America

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Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to them. It’s the moment that changes their lives forever, and that sets off a personal growth in the person. Not only will they remember this particular moment forever, but it’ll also be the moment that remains in their mind as the present and future in addition to the past. It’s the time that imprints itself the most on the specific person, leaving it’s remnants for the rest of their life.

For me the moment occurred when I was fourteen, when the reality of my place in the country and the world seemed to crash down on me all at once. Now that the moment has occurred, it is and always will be stamped in my mind, I’ll always be in the same mindset that I was at that moment. As I stood on the third floor of a museum in front of the twisted piece of scarred metal that was the radio tower on the world trade center for the years before September 11, 2001 I realized that the real America isn’t the busy, personal America of today. I knew immediately that the true America had nothing to do with money, politics, my friends, my town, or even the eighth grade field trip to our capital, which seemed to be the focal point of the universe at the time. America has nothing to do with personal gain, nothing to do with the “American Dream”. No, the real America is the mindset that every individual is just a part of the whole; the idea that we’re all relatives, if not by blood then by the experiences that connect us to one another. Real Americans don’t worry about what people think of them, it’s perfectly okay to cry in the streets. One person’s opinion doesn’t matter, it’s the worldwide views that do. Even age doesn’t matter; everyone is too old, aged by grief and everyone is too young to have suffered such a great loss. To real Americans, colors are burdens; red remindes us of blood, orange and yellow of flames, green of the field in Pennslyvania, blue of tears, and gray of smoke, rubble, and dust. Still, we seek comfort in colors, in red, white, and blue.

My moment in history, the few moments that I stood hand in hand with a friend, crying along with all the strangers in the exhibit, defines the real America for me. The real America is one where my peers and I are standing on our tip toes looking over the edge of a cliff. It’s a time when we all realize that we’re no better than anyone else, because it’s only the support of the people around us, strangers and loved ones, that keep us from falling. But the real America is a country of citizens that know that they need to give what they receive from the world around them to keep everyone from falling. The twisted, torn, broken metal that had been on the top a building that is now an icon for our country became a window for me; I remembered the America of 2001, the America where flags became band aids for everyone’s wounds and eyes were glued to televisions by tears. The few months of people embracing on streets, the time when it was a good thing to show your pain to the world. Neighbors helping neighbors, and the people they meet on the street. Everyone loved everyone; you felt like you’d knew the whole country from the time you were born and all of them were your best friends.

It is this special America, a very untypical one I guess, an unfamiliar transitional blur in the memories of most people, which is the real America for me.
*Note that the first and last paragraph are from A Seperate Peice



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