It's become a time for remembrance as the fifth anniversay of the 9/11 attacks approaches.
To be perfectly honest, I don't remember much about that day. That may sound silly, but other than a few key moments, the rest of the day didn't stand out much.
I spent the morning preparing to head to a meeting with a professor. I was only a college freshman, having been at Illinois State University only a few weeks. As I left, some people were watching a television intently. I didn't pause long enough to see what was on. I saw a news channel and lots of smoke. I assumed it was a volcano or something to that effect.
Arriving at my meeting, the professor, told me that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. We couldn't get any more information than that since the news sites were all jammed with traffic. We finished our meeting, and I just assumed it was a tragic accident, some guy in a Cessna who'd had something go wrong.
I'm not sure how things proceeded after that. Obviously I found out the real story and was utterly horrified. I remember, vividly, some of the things that happened in the proceeding weeks.
I remember my friend Beth being quite sad because her birthday was 9/13 and she didn't feel right celebrating.
I remember wondering whether this would be the first of many attacks, whether planes would be falling out of the skies, whether any city was safe anymore. I'm glad I was wrong, but the feeling of dread that first week was palpable.
I remember the feelings of resolution as the marching band prepared a patriotic show for one of the first football games.
I remember the fury I felt when we learned that Osama bin Laden was taking credit for the attacks, that he was hiding in Afghanistan, and that we'd known he was there for many years.
I remember the completely unanimous support that everyone, on campus at least, felt towards a campaign in Afghanistan. We would bring to justice those involved in the attacks.
I remember my skepticism at the cynics. They supported the campaign but knew the support for defending America and bringing such criminals to justice would fade into political gamesmanship.
I remember my sorrow when I realized they were right.
Before I left for college, I was a fairly "moderate" person. Conservative on some issues, liberal on others. The attacks of 9/11 made me ever more conservative because as the months passed, I came to realize that many on the left no longer took the matter seriously. If you ignored it, if you could pretend like it didn't happen, then you could simply re-align it into a political weapon to use against "Bushitler and the Rethuglicans."
We live in general harmony in our country. September 11th showed us a glimpse of what some in other parts of the world must live with every day. We've all sworn that we wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't let that ever happen on US soil ever again.
I may not remember much of that day, but I haven't forgotten what that day really means.