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Second Day of Infamy; Terror and Change
The day had begun in New York City, as it had any other day. The cloudless sky ushered hundreds of people to work in or around the World Trade Center; unaware that at 8:45 am, their world, along with those of all Americans, would be changed forever.
September 11, 2001, billed as the Second Day of Infamy shook the heart and souls of every American That Day and every American who would walk the streets of this country there on.
It was a day of great sorrow, fear, anxiety and change.
I would like to share how 9/11 changed me personally. I don’t remember That Day, but I can probably guess where I was. I was probably in a crib in my orphanage in Vyborg, Russia. At two years old, I was oblivious to the fact that a half a world away, two loving Americans were planning an adoption; my adoption. I was oblivious to the fact that half a world away, innocent people were dying because of a ruthless and evil act of hate. I was oblivious to the fact that half a world away, those two loving Americans were debating whether or not to travel to Russia due to 9/11. As the years passed quickly, as they always seem to do, I found myself piecing together the story of what 9/11 was and how it affected me.
My Dad has been and always will be my hero. He is a strong, noble and patriotic; he is the embodiment of Joe America. He has never been afraid to share with me about events that changed his life. One such event was 9/11. Prior to 9/11 Mom and Dad had been set to leave for Russia in late September. After the attacks, the adoption date was pushed back to October. If Mom and Dad hadn’t left in October, or if the flight had been cancelled, my life as I know it, would not have been possible.
The most influential experience with learning about that day happened when I was nine years old. I was sitting with my mother at the lunch table, asking her about the events of 9/11. She got half way through the story of That Day, where she was and where I was, when she broke down in tears and had to leave the room.
At that I time, I was stunned. Did I say something wrong? It would take me a few years to realize that she was crying for the 2,996 American brothers and sisters who perished on the planes, in the buildings or as rescuers.
Two years later, I visited House on the Rock in Spring Green Wisconsin. In one of the rooms was a giant exhibit dedicated to remembering the victims of 9/11. It was standing there in that room that I was hit with the emotion from That Day. The bloodied faces of victims young and old. The unnamed dead being carried out on gurneys. The dusty, bloody and tired faces of the firefighters. The look of pain in President Bush's eyes upon hearing the news. These pictures filled me with sorrow, anger and pride.
These events are a few of many that taught me two important life lessons. Lesson number one: Evil does not discriminate. 2,996 men women and children died at the hands of 19 evil men who didn’t care how many people died as long as the means justify the end.
Lesson number two: we the people of the United States are safe as long as we put in place the means to be safe. For me, our best defense is a great offense. In other words, our military has to engage the enemy and destroy them before they engage us and destroy us. It’s that offense mentality that has inspired me to enlist in the military.
As traumatic and aweful as the events surrounding 9/11 were, they have done their part in making me who I am today. If I 9/11 had not occurred, it is quite possible that I would not be filled with pride and patriotism that is the make-up of who I am. As I look back on that day, I always remember and I never forget.