In the aftermath of Sept. 11, even those of us who didn’t think much about our nation’s history or the great sacrifices many had made for it began to become red- white-and-blue, born-in-the-U.S.A. flag-wavers.
It wasn’t that folks weren’t patriotic, but that they simply were caught up in everyday life — from the soap operas to the wrestling matches, from getting the kids fed and put to bed to making sure we spent a little time with our spouses. Our lives are so hectic, we cheat ourselves of sleep, of down time just to sit and be.
But Sept. 11 brought everything to a screeching halt. More people died in that one tragic day in that terribly unexpected way than died in many battles in our great wars.
They died because they represented our country, because they were Americans. In effect, they — each and every one, from the children to the passengers who kept that Pennsylvania airplane from crashing into the White House — became veterans, soldiers who had given their lives for our country.
It seems so long ago that all that happened, but it is less than a year. We all suffered a bit of battle fatigue just from the sheer horror of it, the idea that people just like us could be killed by men who have no concern for human life — even their own. We are still chilled.
Take that feeling and multiply it many, many times and we get a dim idea of what our veterans must feel when they remember battles with bullets whizzing by and bombs exploding. Now think: What do we owe them?