I Hit My Knees…

I now have students coming through my classrooms who don’t remember what happened on September 11, 2001. The majority of these children were between 1 and 3 when the tragedy struck our nation, and while they have been told about it every year that they have been in school, they have no recollection of where they were or what they were doing that day. Within the next year or two, I will have students who weren’t even alive on that day. My own children weren’t even alive that day.

I don’t know, truly, if it is a tragedy or a blessing to these children. A bit of both, I suppose.

It is a tragedy, because they do not know how the country truly solidified together on that day. You couldn’t tell now with the arguments between the political parties, but for a while after this horrifying attack, the country was truly unified. More unified than I had ever seen it before, and honestly, more unified than it has ever been since then. Republican or Democrat didn’t matter at that time. I find it discomforting that this country has stooped to arguing about everything, never coming to any kind of compromise, and throwing blame and mud at one another constantly. It’s never their fault, it’s always the other person’s fault! That’s not politics, that is war. It used to interest me, but anymore, I’m tired of the blame games and the name calling. I never identified myself with one political party or another, and am still a registered Independent, because I choose to judge someone on their own actions and words rather than what side they choose to settle with. I miss the times when the issues were actually the issues, and not just a way to blame one another for whatever they want to twist it to be that day.

It is also a blessing, though. To these children who are growing up without the memories of the terror, the screams, the news reports, the sight of people jumping from the buildings in an effort to save themselves despite the length of the fall, the shock… to them, this country is still “safe”. They do not remember a time when this country was attacked on its own soil. The murders and shootings that happen on a nearly daily basis in the larger cities, that is one thing, but an actual military attack on our soil – infiltrating our own systems to launch an attack in an attempt to truly set us off balance – they do not remember that. All they know is that getting a plane ticket and actually getting on a plane is a pain in the butt BECAUSE of what happened then with the heightened securities that have remained in place since that day.

On September 11, 2001, this country hit its knees. They prayed to God for support, for guidance, and for their loved ones. People cried out to God searching for hope and love. People screamed to God in anger, asking why this had to happen. People admitted his existence! Even if they were incredibly pissed off at Him.

Since then, there have been court cases where people have tried to remove “Under God” from our pledges, because they believe it violates their child’s right when they have to state the pledge in school, because they don’t believe in God. It didn’t matter, to them, that this country was created – and one of the rights created with it was religious freedom. It didn’t matter, to them, that our Congresses still start every session with a prayer, no matter the religion of the senators and representatives sitting within that room. (At least, the last I heard, they did.) It didn’t matter, to them, that this country was founded on the fact that they should be allowed not to believe if they didn’t want to, and they couldn’t be persecuted for it! Fact is, that child has the right not to say those two words when they recite that pledge, and there is nothing anyone can say about it. But… BUT…. removing it because they don’t believe puts their belief above everyone else’s, and that is a violation. Putting one person’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) above everyone else’s is a violation, and that is something that was stated would never be allowed in this country. We allow the religions of the people who have openly attacked us on our own soil, why would we not allow the religions of those who founded this country?

There have also been people who have tried to remove any reference to God from our currency.

People have been called “stupid” for their political beliefs and religious beliefs. Is that acceptance and tolerance? No. It is an insult based on the fact that someone believes differently than they do – and I’m sorry, difference of opinion is not equivalent to stupidity.

(Yes, I have been called stupid for these things. Granted, it is not by people that I know or associate with anymore – and it has been a few years. Believe it or not, it was when I was in college. By the way, when called stupid for my beliefs, it didn’t make me feel stupid. It made me feel as if the person CALLING me stupid didn’t have the “tolerance” for others that they were, amusingly, preaching that people should have. Preaching tolerance in one breath, then calling me stupid for not agreeing with their beliefs in the next breath… is not tolerance.)

Well, I’ll state this for all to see and hear.

I’m not stupid – I have a genius level IQ. While I don’t hold a Doctorate degree, it isn’t because of lack of ability, it’s a lack of want. I’m perfectly content with my Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics, and I’m perfectly content with my profession as a teacher. I may move on and go for a Master’s and Doctorate in time, but for now, I enjoy my job, and I enjoy working with the children. This is my tenth year teaching. I am a teacher because it is the profession I chose, not because I am incapable of doing anything else.

I’m not trash. My children are well behaved and are expected to treat everyone no matter their sex, race, or other affinity with respect, and are punished if they don’t. (Yes, they are punished if they don’t. I don’t find it funny when they disrespect someone, no matter who they are.)

I’m not wealthy. There are many paychecks when, after only paying the bills, we wonder how we’re going to make it until the next check. And it’s not because of frivolous purchases. I do realize that there are people in this country right now that cannot even afford to pay their bills – I’ve been there, too. When our children were born, my husband and I had to choose between feeding our children and paying our bills. We chose to feed our children, and our credit reports are still all messed up because of that decision. We do not regret the decision at all.

I do believe in God.  I don’t ridicule or insult people that don’t for their beliefs. I don’t call them stupid. I don’t get insulted when they crack a joke about people who believe. In fact, I have had some very interesting conversations with those who don’t believe – those who are willing enough to set aside insults and comebacks, and actually talk about why each of us believe the way we do. I don’t think any of us have ever changed our minds, but it is nice to have a mature, rational, and very interesting conversation about it. One where we don’t state who is right and who is wrong, but where we seek understanding in why we believe differently. How, though, can I claim to love people, if I turn around and insult them because they believe differently than I do? I can’t. So, I don’t.

I hit my knees on September 11, 2001. I hit my knees not because any of my family or friends died upon that day, but because our country was in turmoil and in pain. I hit my knees to pray for those being affected, that they would find a way to make it through until they could know the fate of their own family members. I hit my knees for those volunteers who went to search through the debris for survivors. I hit my knees for those who had to witness the deaths of thousands of people. I hit my knees for the children who were born on that day, and the families of those children. I hit my knees for the children watching the news reports, and not understanding any of what was going on. I hit my knees for the country as a whole.

I hit my knees on September 11, 2011. I hit my knees because there are still people suffering after what happened 10 years ago. I hit my knees because other people have been affected with other tragedies since then, and other losses. I hit my knees because there are still wars being fought, and hearts being broken. I hit my knees because there are children growing up in broken homes and being abused, and they need all the protection they can get. I hit my knees because even though my life isn’t in tragedy right now, others are. I hit my knees because other people are important to me, and I believe they need prayer and support… no matter who they are or what they believe. I hit my knees for the children who simply don’t understand why their parents still cry on this day, I pray that they will never be forced to understand why – that they will never have to face such a tragedy themselves.

I hit my knees because I remember. If you don’t, that is your choice, and I won’t ridicule you for it. If you look down upon me because I do, well, that is also your choice, and I’ll still love you. If you hit your knees, too, let me know. I’ll pray with you.

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