The skies were gray this morning. It was overcast, and as I made my way into work, walking under the flag, flying at half-staff, a steady rain began to fall. It was somewhat solemn. The clouds broke a short time later, and the sun made its appearance, but there remained a pall over the Antietam Battlefield today.
I cannot convince myself that it has been six years already since that terrible Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It was, and remains, a day--a moment--frozen in time. Like most, I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I first turned on the news. I still remember how I felt throughout the entire day. It was horrific. Devastating. Surreal. I was 22 years old then, just three days away from turning 23. I was starting my second year of graduate study at Lehigh University. I usually wake early, before even the sun rises, but on that Tuesday, I slept in. I might have very well been up late the night before making my way through an assigned book, or working on a paper, a book review. When I turned on the news and saw one of the Trade Towers in flames, I thought it was a terrible accident. Then the second tower was hit. And my jaw dropped.
Terrible though September 11, 2001, was, in the days, weeks, and months that followed, I do not believe I was ever more proud to be an American. There was for an incredible, but far too brief, time a unity among the people. It was prevalent, and it was undeniable. American flags adorned cars and every home seemingly flew the stars and stripes. Over the years, there has been a waning. Division now characterizes the nation. And patriotism, in far too many minds, has regrettably become synonymous with jingoism. This is unfortunate, for the two should never be confused. America's heroes have once again become the celebrities: the actors, the singers, the athletes.
But today I was reminded that despite this, Americans have for the most part never truly forgotten what happened six years ago. It seemed to be on everyone's mind; not just the staff at Antietam, but with the visitor's as well. The pall lingered, and it remained a solemn day.