When this column is published, there will be two days until the nine-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
As young Americans, we do not remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, which had previously been considered the worst attack on American soil. Instead, we lend our memories to that of being adolescents and watching the World Trade Center, a symbol of American prosperity, fall to the ground.
We werenâ€™t able to accurately assess the reasons why someone in a far away land would do this to our country and felt only bouts of confusion and lengthy periods of fear.
When the World Trade Center fell, I was 11 years old and a sixth grader in my hometown. I can only remember my parents taking me out of school for the day, and as I sat in my grandparentsâ€™ living room, a bowl of macaroni and cheese in hand, I felt confident that President George Bush would defeat these evildoers after all, only because my grandmother told me he would. I remember waking up that night in a cold sweat, picturing a 1984-esque scene, where hooded men in red bandannas took my family away from me.
Nine years later, my opinions are more liberal, jaded and cynical as to what is going on in the world. The naÃ¯ve, wide-eyed idea of an 11-year-old girl has faded from my memories, and instead, I find myself trying desperately to evaluate the reasons why such a horrific attack happened and why thousands of innocent lives had to be lost in an attempt to prove a point of Western submission.
In the past nine years, corruption has taken place in this country and abroad. Lies have been told and wars have been waged with no discernable reason given except to spread democracy. The lives of thousands of American soldiers and foreign civilians have been lost due to a tragic attack on two towers.
In politics today, we hear the spirit of Americanism taken and warped to fit a specific agenda. It has become more American to live in the wilderness and shoot wolves than to live in the city and recycle. It has become more American to support the Second Amendment than to guarantee freedom of religion. It has become more American to yell and insult opponents than discuss positions rationally.
If this article sounds like I hate the United States, I donâ€™t. I love this country, and I love the people here. We may disagree and occasionally lose our temper, but when disaster strikes, we all band together, which is part of the problem.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, millions of dollars were donated to the Gulf Coast to help the victims of the a natural phenomenon. When the oil spill ravaged the Gulf Coast, millions of Tweets were posted in support of those affected. When the cast of the Jersey Shore battered Miami, millions of TV sets were turned off in protest.
It should not take a disaster to bring all Americans together. We as a country are in a strange situation; this is a large piece of land, with many different cultures, areas and opinions. It would be easy to bicker and fight, but then again, it is not the American way to do what is easy but rather to do what is right.
So this year on Sept. 11, apart from the traditional moment of silence and red, white and blue garb, take a moment to be truly American. Instead of complaining about Muslims, your political opposition, or the Jersey Shore, help out your fellow Americans.
Donate time, money or thoughts to someone in need.
After all, the real American is someone who helps others out, regardless of race, creed, gender or other values/beliefs and that is something that nobody, even rogue terrorist groups, can destroy.
Sarah Millard is a senior political science major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.