I am not one for real patriotism, no matter how hard I try. Yes, I am grateful to live in America. I am glad for my liberties and civil rights and I am happy with where I live in the world. But pride in my country is something I never quite got. My country, just like every other country in the world is an amalgamation of good people and bad. People who murder and steal as well as those who teach Sunday school and cook dinner for their neighbors.
And a country is a huge land mass. It is 3000 miles from one coast to the other. That is a lot of space and a lot of people cover that space. There are parts of my country I love, and parts I could do without, just like every other country in the world. Thankfully, the parts I am grateful for far outweigh those I dislike.
So this is not a post about patriotism and what it means to stand for your country. Frankly, I am not the person to talk about those things. Instead, this is a post of thank yous and the parts of this country I am grateful for.
Thank you to the men and women who put their lives on the line every day (or have done so in the past) to secure the freedoms we enjoy without even thinking about it. Whether or not I agree with a war does not mean that you are not courageous and heroic. Thank you for all you do.
Thank you to the men and women who are firefighters, who are on the police force, who are willing to put themselves in peril to save another human life. Thank you for being caring and selfless and often showing us the best of humanity while you deal with the worst.
Thank you particularly to those on the United 93 flight that crashed in the field in Pennsylvania rather than its intended target. I may not like our government all the time or agree with every decision, but if you plane had hit its target, our country would most like have been much worse off. Thank you for your bravery and sacrifice and know that we will always remember the valor you have shown and be grateful for it.
To the family and loved ones of everyone in the Towers and on the planes that were part of that horrible day, my heart still breaks for all you lost because of the selfishness and evil in the souls of a few. I know it is not something you will ever fully heal from but I pray you find peace.
To those who fear one race or religion because one day, I ask that you remember this was the act of a few, not a majority. These are the views of one extremist group and they are wrong. But that does not mean that every person who shares a characteristic with them should be punished for it. They are just people.
To the people who oppose the war, yours is a valid point (and those who do not oppose it also have valid points). This does not mean you have the right to tear down the soldiers who put their lives on the line. They did not choose this war. They chose to serve their country in what they believed to be the best way, just as some serve by running for office and others work in various positions to keep the country running. The first step towards peace is accepting that your side is not the only one to consider.
To the adults who were mere children that day, do not forget. Remember as much as you can, because one day your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, are going to ask you what that day was all about. Don't let it be another fact in the history book that gathers dust while the newest generation forgets why it matters. Remember, in honor of all those whose lives were irrevocably changed.
And to everyone, from sea to shining sea, whether you consider yourself a patriot or not, remember that hate and fear are not the most powerful forces in our world, though often they seem the most pervasive. Hope, though rare, is far more powerful. For while fear and hate can wreak destruction and chaos, hope forges though and rebuilds. Destruction takes no real effort, no true power.
But to believe you can try again? To look for a brighter tomorrow? That takes a strength of spirit and soul that those who sow terror can neither understand nor harness. Hope is what brings dreams to life. Hope is what crushes the darkness threatening to close in. For if you lose hope, you lose what makes all things possible. Hope molds lives to better and brighter things.
So remember the sacrifices of those who fight for hope. And carry on the legacy they leave. Let hope shine and never forget.