Like many other people I can remember exactly what I was doing eight years ago when I learned of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center the morning of September 11. I am not sure I could classify this as a life changing moment for me but more of an awakening.

Before the events of September 11, 2001 I was someone who took freedom for granted. I didn’t give a second thought to my ability to protest something I did not like or voice my opinion with little repercussion other than fearing I would sound like an idiot.

I naively believed I was safe and could travel anywhere in the world without fear that harm may come to me. All of the bombings, hijacking, and other terrorist attacks were something that occurred on the other side of the world. It was a story you saw on television, not something you dealt with at home.

But as I sat in my living room that morning watching as rescue crews were running through the streets of New York while two buildings were in flames as the result of planes crashing into them my perspective changed.

After that day I was no longer free to walk to the gates of an airport and meet arriving family members. I have to consider what I can and cannot carry with me when I travel. My bags are routinely checked now when I enter sporting events or amusement parks. My children now use the word “terrorist” in their conversations and are talking about events that impact our country not some obscure Middle Eastern nation.

Each day I am reminded how different the world is today than it was eight years ago before the attacks. I’ve made a conscious effort to not allow these events to dictate my life and to not dwell on the negative that has occurred in our society in the aftermath of that day.

I’m afraid that if I allow myself to change as a result of what happened in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania on September 11 I will have allowed the terrorists to win. They are counting on my fear. They are counting on disrupting my life and the lives of those around me.

So rather than worry about the possibility of another attack, I am instead taking a moment to remember the innocent victims and their families that were left behind. After that moment I will look outward and try to appreciate the freedoms I am still afforded and know that I am lucky to be a resident of this country.

Life will go on and I will try to ignore the fear mongers who proclaim impending doom. I will instead look for ways to teach my children that regardless of what others attempt to do, they cannot take away our freedoms unless we allow that to happen. Fear will never be the driving emotion in our lives.

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