I am just one of America's disillusioned youth. I have spent many safe nights blanketed by the freedom that generations before me died to provide. For many days, months and years I have forgotten that truth....but I woke up on Tuesday, September 11th, cold and shaking because my blanket was gone.
For those of us in our early twenties, patriotism was slowly erased by ignoring the Pledge of Allegiance in homeroom and by mixing a drink during the Star Spangled Banner at a college football game. The only war of our lifetime was lost on us by distant images of a bombed Baghdad. Our only "real" memories of war cost 6 bucks and are served up cafeteria-style at the local movie theater.
We think Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer are heroic fighter pilots and never think to ask our Dads about their tours in Vietnam. The next week we applaud Tom Hanks when he kills fake Germans and forget that our grandpas killed real ones.
But on a random September Tuesday in the dawn of a new century, America's disillusioned youth finally woke up. We were awakened by fire and smoke, burning buildings and more frightening, burning people. War and destruction came in through our television sets and sat down in the Lazy Boys of our collective living rooms. And the youth of this country found out what it feels like to be an American.
Suddenly, you feel pride rush to your cheeks as a New York fireman pulls out another survivor from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, you well-up with emotion when you hear that the passengers of United Flight 93 sacrificed themselves in the air
over rural Pennsylvania so more lives wouldn't be lost, and you cry when you see the American flags displayed outside every house on your block.
I guess I always knew that I would fight to the death for my family and friends, but the love of a country comes when you feel millions of people come together ready to defend their home.
America, your youngest able-bodied generation just woke up. Sorry it took us so long.