Like many of you, I remember exactly where I was when I watched American Airlines Flight 175 crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I remember the accompanying shock, fear, horror, and immeasurable sadness. A college student, I remember my professors grappling with how to help us process this unfathomable tragedy. Today, as a college instructor myself, I grapple with how to help my students, many of whom were only 1 or 2 years old then, understand the significance of that day, the magnitude of the tragedy, the way it shaped our lives and our country.
In my Freshman Seminar class, over the last few weeks, we have been talking about embracing personal responsibility, about adopting a Creator mindset. We have discussed that you always have a choice—it may not be a choice you like, but you always have a choice. Today, we focused on the pilots and ordinary citizens of United 93 who became heroes by making incredibly difficult and terrifying choices under the most awful circumstances, and with very little time. And still, they made heroic choices—to fight back, to save our country’s Capitol from being attacked, to save the lives of untold numbers of Americans. In making that choice, they showed us all the true spirit of America: in the words of Douglas MacArthur, “Americans never quit.” They are only some of the heroes who we remember today. There are countless others who, on that day and in the days that followed, helped ensure that the American spirit prevailed, and that is why we must #neverforget.