Seventeen years ago today I was sitting in Mrs. Wilson’s 3rd grade class at Central Elementary in Carrollton, GA. My mom was volunteering up at the school that day. At around 9 am I was in class when I see my mom and the principal, Mrs Rodgers standing at the door. Mrs Wilson steps out the door to talk with them. I kept watching them trying to see what they set talking about. I remember the look on my mom’s and Mrs Rodger’s face was very serious. All of a sudden I see Mrs Wilson’s expression change to a look of shock. Mrs. Rodgers stayed in the class with us for a few minutes while Mrs. Wilson went to the teacher’s lounge to see the news footage. She then came back into the classroom and continued teaching.
I wouldn’t find out what that pow-wow in the hall was about until that afternoon when my mom picked me up from school. She told me what happened and I got scared. We only lived an hour from Atlanta and I remember asking if Atlanta was going to get hit. Mom reassured me that we were okay. The news was on until I went to bed that night. I remember watching President Bush’s address to the nation: The look of sobriety on his face, the glistening of tears in his eyes, and the sound of sadness in his voice made for one of, if not the most moving presidential speeches I’ve ever heard. Although America had taken a massive blow and thousands of innocent civilians had been killed, President Bush’s speech gave this 3rd grader in Carrollton, GA a sense of hope, strength, and unity. It was that day that I realized just how great of a country America was. That was the first time I was proud to be an American. That’s where my patriotism started. And although our country is far from what it was seventeen years ago, I still am proud to be an American. I am proud of what America was founded on, the ideals and morals that shaped our nation, the way we overcame struggles and fought wars to ensure the freedom of our people, the way we can all come together in times of trouble and put aside all differences. That is America. That is why we are great. God Bless America.