I was 18 years old and living in the back room at my mom's house on Court St. Back in those days, I was content working for minimum wage at the KD Station. I would work in the evenings, party all night, and sleep all day. I didn't have a real care in the world. I almost never had to work during the daytime hours, but this particular Tuesday, I had been scheduled at 9 in the morning. I was up by 8:15 to make sure that I had plenty of time for my morning rituals: two cigarettes, a quick shower, and a can of coke on my way out the door.
That day was no different. I woke up to my alarm clock stereo playing "The Circle of Life" from the Lion King soundtrack that had been stuck in my 5-disc CD changer for at least a year. I rolled out of bed and grabbed my pack of smokes and a lighter, and headed to the back porch. Some people need coffee to wake up fully in the morning. I needed two (2) cigarettes. I smoked my breakfast and headed back inside to shower. I walked into the main house and instantly saw my mom sitting in front of the tv, white as a ghost and tears streaking down her face. At this point of the morning, everyone, including the newscasters, was still convinced that this was a horrible freak accident. Somehow, a pilot had gotten off course and had slammed into the tower. This was the general consensus until they saw the second plane headed for the second tower. All hell was about to break loose. We sat in complete silence and watched the collision. I was late for work. I didn't care.
After the initial shock wore off, I called work and told them I would be a little late. The owner was somber on the phone. She was usually talkative and jovial. That morning, she calmly and quietly told me to just get there when I could, as there wasn't going to be much work going on that day. I went to work and sat with them in the office, watching the news and chain-smoking cigarettes. The only time I left the room was when they all sent me to buy more smokes. Back then, cigarettes and gas were cheap, so they gave me money for my own smokes and some gas money to boot.
That night, I got home and my parents told me that I was going to do two things: the first was that I was to go fill up all the family vehicles, as there was speculation that gas was going to break the $1.25/gal price and then I was going to the blood bank with my dad to donate blood.
That day was the last normal day of our lives. All of a sudden, things started to change. People were nicer to other people. People started to show a lot more distrust. People rallied around New York City officials and rescue workers, even if they lived on the opposite side of the country. People thought that this newfound patriotism would last forever. The only thing that lasted over the last nine years, in my humble opinion, is the distrust of people that are different than us.
Now, it seems that we are a patriotic nation when that fateful day comes around every September, and we will all get back to our boring and mundane lives again by Monday.
But, even if it is for only one day out of the year, it is important that we never forget the lives lost, both on that day and on every day since that we have been fighting for our nation and our freedom.
I'm just a guy that sells pizza and writes my opinions about stuff. I've never served my country and probably never will. In fact, if it weren't for my love of violent video games, I could probably be classified as a modern-day hippy. But two facts remain: I love my country and I respect those that serve to protect it.
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