Paynesville Press - April 17, 2002

Community Perspective

Staters reflect on Sept. 11 in essays

By Kayla Hemingson and Mindy Meagher

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?

This song lyric that is sung by Alan Jackson was performed not too long after the attacks on America. It gave freedom a whole new meaning and really made me think. My life was changed forever.

I will never again take my life or freedom for granted. For many years I have not sat back and thought about my freedom and how hard my ancestors fought so I could walk down the street and not worry about being shot. Or that I can sit in a classroom and voice my opinion and know that the right of freedom of speech is granted to me without doing anything but being born in this great country.

Freedom isn't something that teenagers these days think about on a daily basis, but on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, every teenager in America took into grasp that our freedom could be gone at any second.

I, as one of those teenagers, raised my head high and gave the American flag a long glance. I cried for those who died, cried for those who made it out alive, and cried for the families who were somehow touched by what happened that day.

For days and weeks after the attack, I shook at the sound of weird noises and things that yesterday seemed so unimportant. I can look back and realize what I was doing at the exact time I heard of what was going on to our country, and I remember how scared I was.

I now wake up every morning with an extra ounce of energy knowing this day I am living for the ones who died in place of us that lived. Some mornings I feel guilty that it could have been me instead of someone's dad or brother.

I know I cannot change what happened, who died, and what is to come but what I can change is how I am going to live my life from now on.

Music was one way I got through the tough time that America was put through. Many singers performed songs in remembrance of what happened, and it opened my heart to a whole new meaning of love and freedom. Songs like "One More Day" by Diamond Rio made me realize that some of us have one more day to change what we didn't do yesterday and make things mean something instead of taking them for granted.

Another song, "Only in America" by Brooks and Dunn, shows that not many other countries have freedom like we do and that we should be proud to live here.

I will hold my head up high, cherish the American flag, sing the national anthem even louder and with more integrity, and look up at the stars at night and know that I will wake up in the morning a free citizen of the red, white, and blue. As another song goes:

I am proud to be an American, for at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men that died that gave that right to me. And I'll proudly stand up, next to you, and defend her still today, cause there ain't no doubt I love this land. God bless the USA.
by Kayla Hemingson

Who will ever forget the tragedy that happened on Sept. 11, 2001?

Time seemed to stand still as you saw what was going on; the world seemed to stop. There was nothing that we could do, just watch in disbelief and pray for the lives that had been lost.

There were many questions that ran through people's minds: "What's going to happen next?"; "What is going to become of our country?"; and "What can we do to help?"

Since the attack on the United States, many changes have occurred. Will the United States ever be the same? Will WE ever be the same?

Who will ever forget where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the attack on the United States? It was a feeling of helplessness as you watched the television in horror.

I was amazed at how everyone came together and showed that no matter what happens, the United States would stick together through anything. We showed the world that we are truly united, and nothing will ever change that!

As time goes on, and it always does, the feeling of hope is coming back. Now that it has been over six months since Sept. 11, we have seen a lot of changes. Not all of them have been pleasant, but they were changes we have had to make.

We still see pictures from Sept. 11, and it seems like something from Hollywood; it's not real.

I don't think that I truly realize what happened. I don't think anyone could realize, unless they visited ground zero at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon and saw the damage firsthand.

Since the attack on the United States, life will never be the same. I hope and pray that someday my children will realize how good they have it, living in the United States and being free. Someday the world will be a peaceful place.

Until then I hope that the government of the United States will stand strong against terror.
by Mindy Meagher

Hemingson and Meagher are juniors at PAHS and wrote these essays about Sept. 11 for the Girl Stater competition sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. Hemingson was chosen to attend Girls State in June, and Meagher is the alternate.

Would you like to participate as a Community Perspective writer? Call Michael Jacobson at 320-243-3772 to get scheduled as a writer or e-mail him at

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