We should respect our heroes every day, not just on 9/11

Published 4:15 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I will always remember where I was on Sept. 11, 2001. I was a freshman at the University of Notre Dame and was working at my part-time job at the sub shop in the student center. It was the opening shift, so one of my responsibilities was to go upstairs to the loading dock and bring down the bread for the day.

Before going upstairs, I was listening to the radio while working in the shop, and remembered hearing the descriptions of the first plane hitting the building. I was only half paying attention, and just assumed that the radio broadcasters were recalling the anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

It wasn’t until I got off the elevator to get the bread, when I realized that something was wrong. The eating area was massively packed with people — far more than would normally be having breakfast in the early morning. The reason that it was so packed was made evident very quickly. They were all glued to the giant-screen TV, watching the shocking news coverage as it took place right before their eyes. I will never forget my first impression of seeing all those people stuffed into the small student center dining room, mesmerized at the horrors that were unfolding.

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I also remember that the university quickly organized a worship service out on the grounds later that day. It was a beautiful experience to see thousands of students, faculty and clergy all gathered on the quad to pray for our country and the families of those who lost their lives on that tragic day. You have to remember, I had only been at college for a few weeks at that point — what a way to introduce a naïve freshman to the harshness of real life.

Now, 12 years later, it is still difficult to fathom what happened on that day.

There is no doubt that it truly changed life in America. Security is stricter, bureaucratic red-tape is thicker and our government has gotten bigger and bigger. I know some would argue that we overreacted to 9/11 and allowed the government to get too big, but it seems like it’s just the way of our world right now.

I will also always remember the way that patriotism became truly strong in the days following that tragedy. It seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere in this country without seeing the Stars and Stripes flying proudly. I wish that patriotic fervor was still just as strong today. It didn’t matter what we looked like, or what our backgrounds were — we were all proud to be Americans.

I also remember the great honor that American citizens bestowed upon our first responders and military personnel. These men and women put themselves in harm’s way every day, and don’t receive near the fair amount of pay or accolades that they deserve.
While Sept. 11, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day always are days where we honor those in uniform, I wish that we could show that same appreciation every day of the year.

I hope that we truly “never forget.” Never forget those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. Never forget those brave men and women who continue to fight for our freedoms each day, to fight to prevent any other Sept. 11 tragedies from ever happening again. And never forget that — despite its faults — we continue to live in the greatest country in the world. God bless America, and thank you to our military servicemen and first responders for your amazing service to our nation.

Justin Schuver is the publisher and editor of The Atmore Advance. You can email him at justin.schuver@