Today is the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks upon the people of the United States of America.
On 9/11 I was in my first month of medical school at the age of 38. I was in the "blue room" with my classmates, studying and killing time between Biochem and Psych. We had those IBM laptops that everybody had, because they were required by the School of Medicine, and people were checking out the news on the Internet. Someone in the room suddenly announced that a plane had crashed into the WTC. I was not worried - I was thinking a little Cessna or something had gotten off course. Then all the news servers got overloaded and it was hard to get online for updates. All the immediate smartphone video that is a thing now didn't really exist yet then, so we were dependent upon network news sources.
The rumors flew, and we traded info from whoever was able to get a connection. On the way to Psych someone said that a tower had fallen, and I remember thinking "That's impossible - sheesh some people will believe anything they hear".
When we got to Psych, it was in one of the new (at the time) tech enabled lecture rooms, and our professor had the news playing up on the big projector screen. There it was in all of it's horrible reality - the fire, the smoke, the panic and destruction - played in near-continuous loop. Then, info began trickling in about the Pentagon, and Shanksville.
Our professor told us that class was cancelled, but he would keep the screen and connection up for those of us who wished to remain and watch, or talk. I stayed for awhile, but then went to pick up my youngest daughter from daycare, and went home to watch the news, and wait for my older two children to get off the school bus. I had heard that some parents were in a panic and were rushing to get their kids out of school, and I remember thinking "Why?"
At the time, I really didn't have any mindset about being under attack. In my mind of the time, it was really more like a set of natural disasters (though man-made).
Obviously, I don't think that way anymore. The world changed that day, and hasn't been the same since.
Since then, I have been honored to know many people who were personally impacted by those events - Police Officers, an Air Marshal, Firefighters, and many members of our Armed Forces who were called to duty. Many of them bear personal injuries, and many of them lost friends in those ensuing years, and many of them still struggle.
Though I shall never forget, and have visited at least one of the National Memorials, I am choosing to act positively in Remembrance. I encourage you to do so as well.
Exercise the rights that you enjoy as as American. Do not take for granted that which has been given to you - earned for you - through centuries of struggle and blood.
Exercise your Right to Vote.
Exercise your Right to Bear Arms.
Exercise your Freedom to Worship as you please.
Exercise your Right to Peaceably Assemble.
Exercise your Right to Speak Out - with voice or in print.
And just as importantly...
Support those same Rights for Others - even if what they believe and say is different.
Because it is that Give and Take - that tension between ideas - which has shaped our country. That tension is often painful. But it is necessary in order to inform intelligent decisions, and mold a country as great as ours - out of so many different people.
DO something with your Freedom today.