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That dreadful day in September

by Greg Belfrage

As I was preparing yesterday for this morning's radio show, I wasn't planning on spending much time discussing the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  As you know, Syria has been dominating the national conversation.  I was fully prepared to spend most of this morning discussing President Obama's address to the nation last night.

However, something happened that changed my mind.

I read a story early this morning about a Wisconsin golf course offering a '$9.11' discount special.  It deeply saddens me that any American would find this to be an appropriate way to commemorate the greatest terrorist attack in America's history.  It's as if they are saying, "Hey, we know 3000 people died 12 years ago. Honor them with a great price on golf!" 

Many are justifiably angry about the golf course promotion. However, I just find it to be incredibly callous and sad. It illustrates clearly how some have forgotten the events of 9/11.

Americans cannot and must not forget what happened that day. Too many civilians and soldiers gave their lives that day and in the years that followed. We have paid too high a price to ever forget.

In past years, I've braced myself against the onslaught of deep emotions evoked by memories of 9/11. As you can imagine, its difficult to host a radio show when you feel overwhelmed by sorrow and grief. I don't know why, but I didn't do that this year. 

Perhaps, in the back of my mind, I thought I was over those feelings. However, as I played a brief montage this morning of news and audio clips from September 11, 2001...the sickening feelings of that day came rushing back with incredible force.

Despair. That's what I remember most from 9/11.  A deep, sickening despair such as I have never known in my life. 

Fear. On the faces of my wife, the faces of my young children. My own fear at what must surely lie ahead. War had been waged on our shores. Now we would have to take to the war to our enemies. I imagine Americans must have felt much the same on December 7, 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. I looked at my 4-year old son and wept for the boys I knew were sure to lose their lives in the months ahead.

Violated. Someone had just broken into America's house and murdered thousands of civilians without notice. I felt a very personal sense of loss and violation.

End of Innocence. 9/11 was the day everything changed. I've never looked at the world in the same way since.

Those were the feelings of 9/11. However, there were many other feelings in the days and weeks that followed.

Anger. An overwhelming, powerful anger directed at those who would dare carry out such an atrocity.

Resolve. A commitment to confronting and defeating America's enemies, as well as any others who would threaten the safety and liberty of Americans.

Patriotism. I'm a veteran and have always had a very strong love of country. The events of 9/11 only deepened my love and appreciation for America the Beautiful. Flags were everywhere in the wake of the attacks.

Faith. My trust in God has never been stronger than it was in the weeks following 9/11. Churches saw record attendances.

Here we are...twelve years later. The churches are mostly empty. Many flags are gathering dust on shelves in the garage. America is more divided than ever. And golf courses are offering discount specials to commemorate a terrorist attack.

However, the tears are still spilling down my face. I view 9/11 much like the death of a loved one. You never get over it. You just learn to live with it. 

And I won't forget. I'll never forget that dreadful day in September.

Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.