On the 11th of September, 2001, an infamous event unfolded before the eyes of America and the drowsy faces of her citizens. Pots of coffee percolated, forgotten, in the background. The unfilled mugs and then grieving tears crashed to the floor. A morbid tragedy struck a blow to our homeland but the attack left us united stronger than ever. It was a unity like none before, a unity that should have been present without such a disastrous event. It was a unity that didn’t last long enough, and one that evades us today. That morning was different. It was an odd morning. Normally, my parents would be downing their usual cup of coffee by the old fireplace in the corner of the kitchen. Our tired, old, Australian cattle dog would be gazing intently at the orange warmth of the fire as if she wanted to curl up inside it. When I thumped down the staircase from my loft bedroom, I sensed that it was a different sort of reveille. Dew had settled on the ground hours before, only to be burned away by the mid-morning sun. The cold air knocked at the door. Like an icy breath, it penetrated the single-pane windows, making it strange that the two rocking chairs by the warm mantle were vacant. My ears took me to the living room, where the television was on. Mom and Dad were sitting in the sofa, staring into the billowing cloud that occupied the TV screen. Their faces were hardly visible in the dawn’s early light but I could make out the grave expressions on each. My initial feeling that morning is one that I don’t like to admit to. I felt as if the scene on the TV was too far away, too distant, to affect me. Today, I am appalled at my ignorance but it should be noted that a 10-year-old country boy is not someone you would want to ask about war. Had I been five years older, I would have fully understood what that day meant to all of us. Understanding would hit me later like a steam engine under full power. Jumping forward seven years would find me standing at attention in uniform listening to a black box’s recordings from the final hours of flight 11. The screams and words of those on board will remain in my ears for eternity, haunting me. They instilled a lasting hatred for those who were involved in the scheme and a solid love and respect for my country; a respect that I wish was more widespread. I am not a person who will claim full support of the war in the Middle East but I believe that at least we need to support our military members. Our brothers and sisters are there. Our mothers and fathers are there. They fight and risk it all for us, yet there are Americans who would spit at their feet. The disrespectful attitude toward our service men and women has appalled me more times than I can count and they have done nothing to deserve that treatment. Yes, it is hard to travel as a result of tighter security. Transportation Security Administration will search you. Customs and Border Protection will ruffle through your belongings. The U.S. Coast Guard will board and inspect your vessel. This is the Department of Homeland Security and they are the one wall that stands in the way of an all-out attack within the continental United States. So next time you feel like complaining about the delay, hold your tongue and remember that they made an oath to protect and defend you in the darkest of days. Consider them your personal bodyguard, working around the clock, away from home, to keep you and me safe. The attack of 9-11 affected all of us in different ways. I think it has caused us to be more aware that there are people in the world who would have us slaughtered. They would kill us solely for the ideals that our fathers gave their lives for time and time again. I hope that dismal September morning, and the anniversary of it, will put a sense of pride in all of us. I hope that our country grows until one day we will be great again; great like we were when the United States was built on hopes and dreams of a united people. A race of men and women working toward the common goal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I hope that one day we are a country of patriots. Patriotism. It is an inextinguishable flame that burns somewhere in all of us. I ask my peers to let it burn. Let it engulf you, whether you’re a pacifist or not. Let American pride roar like the cannons and muskets that bought our freedom. Let it sound out like steel on steel when our sabers clashed with our foes. Let it ring like freedom. Let the memories of the victims be as phantoms over your shoulder as you go about your life, and as always, never forget. Never forget the victims, the families, and the soldiers. Save for them a backward glance when you are leaving, for the places they can no longer go. Cody Newman is a Lincoln resident.