I’ve never considered myself to be particularly patriotic; I spend as much time living outside of the United States as I do within, and I spend as much time grumbling about our government as I do about Spain’s. Half the time I consider myself to be an expat, especially when I hear about some new problem or issue in American politics. I become angry when I hear about some new fanatical group or how our government is constantly at war between the two parties but I become even angrier when I hear stereotypes and generalizations about the States from people abroad. In spite of my own problems with my country, at the end of the day, I’m American, and this massive, stubborn country is mine, and I am proud about where I come from.
America has freedoms and its own special (occasionally annoying and proud) culture that few other countries even come close to. There is the possibility, the opportunity here, that I have yet to find abroad. Paths are open here; not as open as they could be, but they are open, and I still believe in the American dream; that if you work hard enough, it will pay off. You can become whomever you want to be here, that your voice truly matters, and I feel like that is something so incredibly rare and precious and needs to be held on to. Americans tend to throw words like “freedom” and “liberty” and “rights” around a lot, but it goes to show what our values really are. I believe in freedom; I believe in choice; I believe in opportunity, and at the end of the day Spain may be my country, but America is my home.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers ten years ago, I was sitting in my 8th grade geography class in Virginia; I was 13 years old. I remember the announcement over the PA system. I remember my teacher running out to see what was going on. I remember watching the news and seeing the second plane crash into the second tower. I remember people crying. I remember the announcement that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. I remember trying to call my dad because he works for the government in D.C. I remember watching the news all day and night with my mom and stepdad, wondering what the world had come to. I remember trying to understand how some people could hate us so much that they could do this. It is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life.
That summer my family took a trip to NYC; it was the first time I had ever been there. We walked along the fences at Ground Zero; a huge hole where the two skyscrapers used to be. I can still remember seeing huge tarps and canvasses covering the windows of the surrounding buildings where the glass had blown out, and I remember all of the signs, all of the notes, all of the candles, all of the flowers, and all of the photos covering the fences.
3,000 people died that day. 3,000 innocent people. More than 3,000 families and friends were hurt and changed forever. It is hard for me not to feel patriotic when I think I about 9/11. I get angry and sad, and I want to scream when I think about it. But it is important that we never forget what happened ten years ago today, and more importantly that we learn from it. If anything, it reminds us that we need to become united again; to have pride in ourselves but not be think we are invincible. We need to move forward and not get lost in same blind zealous hate as our attackers. We must not forget.
Where were you on September 11th? How did this tragedy affect you?