Each September, we pause to remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives when airplanes were flown into World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks shocked and saddened a nation. But they also stirred strong feelings of patriotism and, if for a short time, rekindled a national spirit of unity. Thus, the annual observance of the attacks is also referred to as “Patriot Day.”
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 nears, it’s an occasion not just to remember those who died in the attacks, but also to reflect on what it means to be an American, and how throughout history so many brave men and women have paid the ultimate price in defense of our way of life. Indeed, we live in the greatest land in the world, but only because of the sacrifices of so many who have fought – and died – for the freedoms we now enjoy.
Sept. 11 also provides us a unique opportunity to reflect on all America has been through – the wars, the crises, the economic hardships – and how we’ve always persevered to overcome those challenges. That’s especially important today, given the endless stream of bad economic news and ongoing turmoil.
Perhaps most importantly, we’d do well to use next week’s Sept. 11 observance as opportunity to teach our kids about the power of patriotism. Certainly, the value of patriotism isn’t instilled in today’s youth the way it was years ago.
Yes, young people still love America. But it’s hard to ignore the decline in patriotic values that has occurred over the past several decades.
Our nation has been able to surmount its many obstacles largely because of the deep faith, abiding love-of-country and strong spirit of the American people. In short, American patriotism has helped pull us through the difficult times. When ordinary Americans feel patriotic, their love for their country compels them to do their own small part to help strengthen their nation. They buy American. They become involved in their community. They sign up for military service. They make personal sacrifices in order to serve a purpose greater than themselves.
If we’re to truly prepare our young people to lead America toward a brighter tomorrow, it stands to reason that that we must work to instill in them the patriotism that helped build America into the greatest nation in the world.
So let them see you wave the flag. Let them see you hug a soldier or thank a veteran. Remind them that our differences certainly pale in comparison to the common bond we share as Americans.
Their generation may be better off because you did.