My alarm went off and I got out of bed and went to take a shower. As I left the room my roommate, who was already awake, told me a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. I remember thinking how crazy that was, that someone accidentally hit a building that big. When I got out of the shower and walked back into the room my roommate told me another plane had hit the other tower. He had the news turned on so we watched and saw that a third plane had hit the Pentagon. I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know what, and I went to my 9:30 class. On the way I saw one of my friends on the sidewalk and asked her if she heard what happened. She said no, she had just gotten out of a class, and when I told her she didn’t believe me.

When I got to my class everyone was talking about it. The teacher wasn’t there so we pulled up cnn.com on the computer attached to the projector board. We spent about twenty minutes getting as much information as we could, and then when we realized class was canceled we all went over to the basement of the Student Center, where all the TVs were. I remember the room was filling up quickly as people who had classes came there instead of going back to their rooms. Maybe something about being around people we loved at that moment made us all go to a common place. I sat on one of the pool tables and watched the TV along with a hundred other people.

I remember how we were all for going after the people who attacked us. And how in the next few weeks and months, Americans showed their best and worst sides. I remember how people banded together to help, how stories of heroic acts started coming out, and how my school sent a group of students to New York City over fall break to help any way they could. I also remember how anyone with brown skin became persecuted, and how if you didn’t have a bumper sticker on your truck you weren’t patriotic. How if you ever said anything bad about the country you were a terrible person. But I remember more the love that people on my campus and across the nation showed for each other during that awful time.

And that’s something I’m trying to remember now. Love each other. Get to know people from other countries before you judge them. Realize that our differences, maybe especially apparent during this election cycle, are not as important as the things we have in common. Freedom, an ability to learn and think for ourselves, the ability to question our government when it needs to be questioned, and the ability to love the hell out of our country when it deserves to be loved. Like it does today.

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