Like most Americans, I remember exactly where I was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I watched live as the second tower in NYC was struck and news started to come in that the Pentagon had been hit as well. At the time, I was close enough to DC that the fighter jets were scrambled all over the East Coast screamed overhead at regular intervals. It was a day that changed a lot in the U.S. and, indeed, all over the world.
It is an important day to remember for many reasons. The innocent lives lost is the primary, with a close second being the foreign policy that got us to that point in the first place. Why was the U.S. targeted in that initial statement and not Canada, England, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Australia, etc... It certainly wasn't because we were watching baseball and eating our apple pie.
Nevertheless, in remembering 9/11 it is also critical that we not forget.
We can not forget that our nation was founded on the notion of freedom of expression and that, for better or for worse, the majority groups in the U.S. are here because their ancestors were seeking a refuge from intolerance. For the many who are descendant from immigrant groups, remember that your ancestors likely were discriminated against in their effort to carve out a life for themselves in their newly adopted country.
We should not forget that in every group there are extremists who either take actions in the name of something or are later associated with it. Yes, the hijackers on 9/11 were Muslims, but that incriminates ALL Muslims in the same way that any other religion has to answer for the worst among it. If you are catholic, do people scorn you or hate you because of the actions of some priests in your church? Is that a direct reflection on you, as a person? Do you feel responsible for those actions, which you could not possibly have known were taking place?
We should not forget history, even recent history, has shown us that the combination of a poor economy and a spokesperson who is happy to capitalize on fear, hatred and ignorance*, can provide enough spark to start a fire with devastating consequences. You can read a much more lucid post about this at White Coat Underground. Those who are willing to use people's difference against them have always been the enemies of society, no matter what group they self identify with or what flag they wave.
The simple fact remains, if you are willing to categorically hate a group of people just because they believe in something different from you, look or speak different from you or live different from the way you do, then you are no different than those who were willing to kill the innocent on 9/11.
That is what I will never forget.
*Ignorance does not mean stupidity in this case. Plenty of intelligent people have happily filed into the ranks of the mobs of hatred.