We are the 9/11 generation. We are the ones who will always remember where we were the moment when we heard the towers went down. We are the ones who witnessed the destruction—to infrastructures, to families, to communities, to our nation. We are the ones who continue to confront the casualties that are a result of the 2001 attacks. We know what it means to be truly shaken, to have reality turned upside down by the power of violence. We know the somber reality of a post 9/11 world.
“Those in this building that day knew what they were witnessing. It was a declaration of war by stateless actors bent on changing our way of life, who believed these horrible acts, these horrible acts of terror directed against innocents could buckle our knees, could bend our will, could begin to break us and break our resolve. But they did not know us. Instead, that same American instinct that send all of you into the breach between the fourth and fifth corridors galvanized a new generation of patriots, the 9/11 generation” -Joe Biden
We also know what the power that hope has. With all the tragedy, sadness, anger, and fear, we have had the opportunity to be a part of something amazing: a part of a generation, a community, and a nation that has shown resiliency in the face of terror and despair. We have seen people come together in spite of our differences. We have seen a nation full of people who are willing to sacrifice themselves—people who sacrifice their lives, their loved ones, their everything—for the sake of others. We have seen people step up to risk it all, simply because that was the right thing to do. Because it was their job, their duty. It is these actions that are truly unbelievable.
“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming, but I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save.” -Abraham Lincoln
And it is with the privilege of being safe-guarded and protected by these people, that I have the opportunity to thank them for all they have done. I will always remember walking into my classroom in seventh grade to see the smoke rising from one of the Twin Towers. I will always remember the jolting feeling that coincides with the reality behind that image. But I will also remember all of those who gave their lives and continue to fight for our nation. I will always remember to be grateful for what those sacrifices mean to my country, my family, and me.