by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
I’m honored to be part of a 9/11 Remembrance event tonight in Williamston. Here’s what I’m planning to say*:
Thirteen years ago today, our lives were shaken and the world changed forever.
What our forefathers fought for was never clearer. Freedom was never more threatened and never more important.
Again this year we remember what happened on the morning of September 11. How could we forget? How could we ever forget? It’s one of those moments that’s etched in memory.
I was in my office at the North Carolina General Assembly. Working for the House minority leader Rep. Leo Daughtry. A colleague stopped by and said turn on your TV. We thought the first plane was a fluke, a pilot miscalculated, got off track. But then the second plane hit, the buildings collapsed, panic ensued. Who can forget the images of that day – the burning buildings, the smoke, people running through Manhattan. Police officers, first responders, firemen.
The news of another plane hitting the Pentagon and then another crashing in Pennsylvania. The president – first in the classroom and then on AirForce One.
Panic, absolutely raw panic. What was next? Who, if anyone was safe. Who was it that hated the United States of America? Why?
I cried every single day for a month. I cried for my mother who had lived through the depression and WWII She believed her generation had ensured our nations’ safety forever. I cried for my children and wondered what their world would look like. I cried for the children who lost their parents and grandparents and the mothers who lost their children. I cried for all the brave responders, policemen and firemen. I mourned like everyone else the loss of our nice safe American lives.
And in the days after the attack, as we began to heal and recover, there is something else I remember.
For one brief golden moment, we were completely united as Americans.
We had renewed pride in our country.
We wanted to show that in public.
Flag manufacturers could not keep up with the demand for our beautiful, simple flag.
Every house, office building and car had a flag flying somewhere, somehow.
All Americans: conservatives, liberals, homosexuals, Christians, hispanics, blacks, whites, men, women and children were united in an appreciation and love for this astounding country.
We were fully behind our president. We looked to him for leadership and he delivered.
Police officers were our heroes.
Everyone was proud to be an American.
Freedom rang. It was loud, it was true and it was clear.
It was awe-inspiring.
And here we are 13 years later. What happened? Where is that pride we felt? That unity? Can you still hear that ring of freedom?
We were a leader in the world, a beacon of freedom, a light of liberty. We have a president who is indecisive when dealing with threats to our safety. What is his strategy in the middle east? We have the best doctors and the most advanced medical training and technology in the world. What is happening to our health care? We had a robust thriving economy that was the envy and the model for every other nation. We now have a trillion dollar debt. We took care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors. We lived within our means. Now thirty five percent of us are on welfare. Policemen were our heroes and our role models. Now there is a distrust of law enforcement and a skepticism of justice. There are riots in our streets and looting in our cities.
What has happened? What will it take to bring it back? To hear freedom ring, that swell of pride to be an American? What can we do?
There is an election in about 7 weeks. The US Senate race here in North Carolina could very well determine which party controls the Senate. The future of country hangs in the balance – ObamaCare. The National debt. Government entitlement programs. The safety of our country. Freedom.
And it’s not just in Washington. Right here in NC, we’re beginning to turn our state around. Unemployment has gone from over 10% to 6.4%. Our business tax ranking has gone from 44th to 17th. The overreach of government regulations are being rolled back. Personal income tax rates have come down for every taxpayer, sales tax rates are lower and corporate tax rates are now competitive with our neighbors. Freedom – to keep more of your money and make decisions for yourself and your family.
And in communities across NC, county commissioners, town councilmen, mayors, school board members are making decisions that affect your freedom. Property taxes. Property rights. Education. Freedom.
So as we look back on what happened 13 years ago. And we remember the confusion, the fear, the panic, and then the gratitude and pride, let’s remember the lessons of September 11. We are a great nation because we are a free nation. Let’s remember it on November 4. Let’s remember it everyday.
*Thanks to my mom and my friend Susan Lewis for their thoughts and remembrances.