I understand how the nation felt when they awakened on December 7, 1941 to the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I am certain when I awakened to the news of the attacks on 9/11 I felt the same anxiety, the same sadness, the same worry, the same anger... the same feeling that nothing would ever be the same again.
And I do believe it changed the citizens of the United States.
I, for one, was reminded of who our friends are throughout the world as other nations and their citizens joined with us in condemning the attacks on innocent civilians.
I was also reminded that we are not completely safe, though we have oceans on two sides of us and we are not at war with our neighbors to the north or the south.
I was reminded that ships or submarines filled with enemy combatants need not appear on our shores; enemy aircraft carrying bombs do not have to fly in formation over our cities; our soldiers do not have to dig in around our towns to face an opponent's lines forming around us. It took only a few to remind us all that we are not invulnerable.
But they did not destroy us. We did as Americans have done for centuries. We picked ourselves up, we dusted ourselves off and we were and are determined to remain a free nation filled with free-thinking, independent people.
There are so many who lost their lives that day. So many mothers and fathers who lost sons and daughters, children who lost a parent, men and women who lost sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, people who lost friends they will never see again.
And yet my faith tells me we will see those we lost when we cross over to the other side.
I believe that because I can believe it. Because even though a few vile, heartless and cowardly men killed innocent Americans, they did not change our way of life. I can continue to believe in God - or not - an afterlife - or not - because I am an American.