I remember the start of the last decade. The 2000's, "ohs", "aughts"... Whatever we finally decide to call them. December 31, 1999 was such an intense night, everyone was all a flutter about Y2K, the New Millennium, and the end of the world as we knew it. Well, the clock struck midnight and we were all still here, no worldwide computer crashes, life-ending asteroids, or aliens hell-bent on world domination. We did have an outbreak of some of the WORST-EVER TV commercials, which haven't gotten too much better, but that was about as bad as it got. We came in to the 2000's with all the feel-good extravagance of the 90's, fully expecting the kind of peaceful prosperity we had grown accustomed to over the past decade. And for a while that's exactly what we had.
September 11, 2001 was more than a successful terror attack on the United States, it was a pivotal moment in our history. Because we were scared of those who attacked us, we allowed our government to strip us of freedoms and fling us head first into a war that took the lives of many great and courageous young men and women, all in the name of protecting us from another disaster. We became consumed, even obsessed, with the thought of capturing and killing Osama Bin Laden and those who helped him mastermind an atrocity that will forever be burned in the minds of millions of Americans. Our government may have taken a few wrong steps, but our people took an incredible leap forward (which is to say backward)! Allow me to explain. After 9/11, we were once again PROUD to be Americans! We helped each other again, we were patriotic, we wanted to fight for our freedoms and we wanted to win! Do you remember that America? I do.
Fast-forward to December 31, 2009, the end of an era and the start of a new one. This night was different. We were still celebrating, and once again we were celebrating in fear. This time, however, the fear wasn't a made-up computer problem, but instead fear of change, of losing our jobs, losing our freedoms. Some say there is no way things could get worse, that we are at the bottom and the only way we can go from here is up. I'd like to believe that, but I don't. Things can always get worse, and they probably will before they get better.
So how do we improve? How do we make sure we get what we want, what we deserve? We find that American, patriotic, fighting spirit that we had in 2001-2002! We need to make our voices heard, study history and learn its valuable lessons, and not settle for anything less than what we deserve! What do we deserve? Freedom. It's what our Founding Fathers fought for and gave up everything they had to achieve. Keep your chin up and your head down, we can make it through this and we will, so long as we remember who we are and what we, as a nation, stand for. It's like the song says, "If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything." We can't afford to fall, so we must stand, and stand proud. After all, this is a new decade, and it is ours to shape as we see fit.