Seventeen years is a long time. It sometimes does not seem like it, but it is.
I mean, it takes that long for periodic cicadas to come above ground, and it took 17 years for the world’s longest rail tunnel, located in Switzerland, to be built.
If a person was born 17 years ago, they can now drive and are almost out of high school. They may have a job, or they may just volunteer somewhere.
I know that when I was 17, I was already thinking of going to college and getting out of my parent’s house.
I don’t know about you readers, but, to me, it also seems to have taken about 17 years for us Americans to lose something important: unity.
Seventeen years ago, something absolutely terrible happened. That event caused the American people to come together in ways they probably never thought about before.
If you look at this country today, I would almost say that for some of us, we’ve lost that.
See, I was in fourth grade when the towers fell.
I was ignorant of much of the bad in the world. I was more worried about reading books, sitting with the cool kids on the school bus and thinking about what mama was cooking for dinner that night.
I was worried about making sure that I did my chores – feeding the animals and starting the washing machine if it needed it when I got home – and making sure I got my homework done.
On Sept. 11, 2001, however, it was the first time that I saw some of just how bad this world can be, and in the time that followed, I also saw just how good it could be as well.
I don’t really remember much of that terrible day. I just remember sitting in a classroom with about 20-30 other students watching TV.
To be honest, at the time I was probably thinking more about the fact that I was getting to watch TV instead of doing schoolwork. However, soon after watching one tower of the World Trade Center fall, then the other, and even more so now, I realized just how important that day was.
Right after my high school graduation, I visited the site where the towers used to stand. In New York, a place that’s filled with life, noise and constant movement, there was almost a bubble of silence, serenity, sadness and awe while standing next to a wall that blocked the people on the street from the site of destruction.
On that terrible day in 2001, children lost parents; parents lost children. Families and friends lost loved ones. In fact, some of those loved ones are still lost.
There are stories that can be found as recently as July of this year of families finally being reunited with their loved ones who lost their lives that day.
According to a CNN article, after Sept. 11, 2001, there were about 20,000 human remains of about 3,000 people taken to the New York’s medical examiner’s office to be identified.
To date, according to this article, there are still over 1,000 victims who have not been identified.
Thousands have lost their lives overseas in the War on Terror that started after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, according to a 2017 article from the Los Angeles Times, almost 7,000 have died while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine what that number could be today.
After Sept. 11, 2001, flags were flown on what seemed like every house in what seemed like every neighborhood, and patriotism was higher than ever before.
Those towers became a symbol of the American people coming together as one.
Today, if you didn’t know any better after hearing or reading the news or listening to the way some people speak, you almost would not even think that a connection like that between people was possible.
People are fighting with each other about guns, racism, a flag and who knows what all else. These fights have been going on for years.
There seems to be no unity between people anymore, with a multitude of different groups fighting for their own agendas.
This year on Sept. 11, when you walk out your front door and before you get into your car, take a breath and think about what it means to live here in America, what it means to even have an idea like America exist.
Of course it goes without saying, don’t forget to think about those who fight for us everyday and those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
They gave up and continue to give up so much for us to live here and thrive here.
We should remember that.
Cassie Gibbs is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.