What 9/11 could teach us all …
Nineteen years-ago today, I remember getting dropped off at Jenks Middle School as an eighth-grade student.
I was wearing my Jenks Trojan Football collared shirt with khaki pants ready to take on the Union Redskins that evening at Tuttle Stadium.
School was the last thing on my mind, as all I could think about was how many points we were going to score against our arch-nemesis.
Growing up a Jenks Trojan athlete, you are taught at a very young age that, well, we just don’t like Union very much and they don’t like us either.
Okay fine, it was pure and utter dislike and we looked forward to putting a beating on them every time we saw them on the other side of the line.
So, as you can imagine, my focus was on one thing and one thing only as I walked into school that Tuesday morning.
All the students gathered in the cafeteria prior to the first-hour bell to mingle and talk about the big game that night.
The bell rang and it was time for first hour.
First hour went along as usual. It went seemingly forever, but we got through it.
Then came second hour. Math class, but not much math was taught that day.
I remember about halfway through the hour, another teacher in our four-classroom pod came and knocked on our door. Our teacher went out in the hall for a few minutes and came back with a look on her face I will never forget.
It was a look of terror.
That is when the rumblings among the students in our classroom started.
“What is going on?” “What is happening?” “What is wrong?”
She told us something had happened in Washington D.C. but did not know much about it.
We pleaded with her to turn on the in-class television, but she repeatedly said she could not, that she had been told not to turn on our TV.
Several hours later, an emergency-assembly was called and the entire student and faculty body of Jenks Middle School sat and listened to our head principal tell us that our country had been attacked by terrorists in New York City and Washington D.C. and another plane had gone down in Pennsylvania.
It was at that time we also found out that our much-anticipated football game with Union was not going to be played that night.
As a bunch of 14-year-old kids, we at first were angry that we were not going to get to play football that evening, but as the day went on and I made my way home after school, I began realize why there was no football to be played and why it wasn’t just the right decision, but the only decision.
That frustration and disappointment I felt because my football game was cancelled, quickly shifted to anger. I was angry at these terrorists that had literally turned this country upside down in a matter of hours.
This nation was bruised and crippled, but that did not last long.
The people in this country came together and we responded by showing the world just how strong we are and why the United States of America is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best and most powerful nation on this globe.
We showed this world that we are a country of leaders and not followers, that we will fight to defend what is ours and if you attack us, you better be ready for the fight of your life.
Nineteen years is not that long of a time, but when you think about what this country has shown in 2020, 2001 might as well have been a lifetime ago.
I am only 33 years old, but I am betting I would be hard pressed to find a time in our nation’s history where we have been more divided than we are now.
One of my favorite movies is Remember the Titans, which is about a high school football team in Virginia in the 1970’s that battles racism in their community, in their school and on their team.
The main character in that movie, Herman Boone, is played by Denzel Washington, says a quote that always resonated with me, but now it resonates more than ever.
Here it is:
“This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other.”
Nineteen years ago, we came together as a nation. I believe we can do that again. If we don’t, there is a good chance we too will be destroyed.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the Jenks Tribune.