It has been nine years since that fateful morning. I was at my civilian job, hosting my boss' boss and a collection of international scientists and engineers. I received a call from my command at the time and was told to "stand by".
We watched, mesmerized, as the images flooded through the television. We really didn't understand it at the time. In a way, we still don't understand the events of that day. We are a nation of vigorous, passionate yet peaceful disagreement. It is impossible for us to reconcile the cognitive dissonance of the actions of that day.
This anniversary is marked by frustration and anger. It seems to stem from the lack of resolution from the attacks of 2001. To this day we still have not captured Bin laden, the success in Iraq is unsatisfying and we are reminded constantly that a segment of Islam would like to see us destroyed.
The United States, for all of its flaws, is tolerant, open and welcoming to all types of individuals. We have physical and social room enough for everyone. There is no nation on the planet with the level of freedom, opportunity or openness to rival that of the United States.
Some of my dearest friends would contest this statement, however, any challenge brought is easily disassembled or refuted. The Scandanavia nations are often held up as a model, and yet they are a largely homogeneous culture with only a few million citizens and limited access for immigrants. The United Kingdom is cited for their acceptance of homosexuals and yet their continuing class segregation and troubling presence in Northern Ireland remains a substantial hindrance to true social freedom.
This is not an unhindered, jingoistic worship of our nation. It is merely an acknowledgement of the numerous real belssings we enjoy. A recognition of the many real challenges we have still to face as a nation and the expression of my hope and belief that we will rise to the best of our ideals.
It is important to remain ever forgiving and never forgetting.