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It was a day that started out just like every other day, but one that neither I nor anyone else realized would change the way the America views September 11th forever. It was the day of September 11, 2001.

I had just turned eighteen and was a freshman in college a long way from home in Pensacola, Florida. My alarm went off at 6:30 am, I rolled out of bed, got dressed and was off for a full day of classes. I had barely completed my first class of the day when the entire school was called into the main auditorium. No one knew what was going on as we didn’t have access to television or radio at this school, but what we heard would change the course of history.

As thousands of us sat there awaiting the news that had brought us all together, the college President slowly approached the podium where he would announce to a room filled with young Americans, just beginning their futures, that so many other Americans several states away had lost theirs.

Freedom as we had known it had changed.

This was something we all only partially understood at the time as we continued to live and walk freely in our little bubble of a world.

Classes were cancelled for the day and I was among the crowds of college students huddled for hours around every TV or media outlet of sorts that was to be found on the school campus – trying desperately to make sense of it all. Why would someone do that? How could that just happen?

No one would argue that our world change a great deal on September 11, 2001. For the bad….and for the good. But we must choose to focus on the good. I remember this every time I read a story to my kids about a fire-fighter who lost his life that day while saving strangers he’d never even met, or remember how grateful we all felt for life and the lives of our loved ones that day, or remember how it all united a nation and woke us all from our sleep.

So here we are ten years later, and I don’t believe any of us that were so used to living in a free and “safe” America has ever managed to make sense out of the wreckage that hate left behind.

Yet still I find yet again that there is no limit to the evil that can be redeemed. 9/11 demonstrated this. What was lost that day was not wasted because we chose it to be so. All of the good that came out of that day lives on…. the hate does not.

Nothing about 9/11 is too ugly or big to be redeemed.

My kids and I have been reading and learning about that historic day for the past couple of weeks leading up to today – and having lived through it, and felt all the emotions that millions of Americans felt that day, I have to admit it’s more than a little surreal to see the words of the story of 9/11 imprinted in history books for brand new generations to learn of for the first time.

But I remember, and I will teach my children to remember without bitterness, hate or anger. I will teach them that it’s okay to acknowledge the hurt of others and all that happened to our country, but to aim our focus more on the healing that followed.

We are free and brave – and so very proud to be Americans!

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