September 14 was marked on my calendar since the beginning of this year. I had a flight back to Indianapolis on that day. This was a birthday present from my parents. It was my birthday weekend, and I intended to make it one of my best birthdays ever. Friday, I was supposed to meet my girlfriend Pam and my best friend Mike for dinner. The Notre Dame/Purdue game was on the schedule for Saturday. The climax of the weekend was the home opener for the Indianapolis Colts with my parents and Pam. Then, we all were going to head for dinner. In between these events, I was going to be celebrating with various family members who would feed me my favorite dishes and give me gifts. It was the All-American weekend for an All-American guy. Then, came the attack.
I was asked on more than one occasion, “Are you going to take the flight?” not once did I ever pause before saying, “Why wouldn’t I?” This was going to be my weekend, and the fact I was spending it with my family and friends in my hometown had a more special meaning now. To complete the story, my flight was eventually canceled, I did not get to go home and my birthday weekend was quite a disappointment.
Regardless, the people that committed the reprehensible atrocities of Sept. 11 want us to be scared. They want us to change the way we live, the way we think, the way we work and the way we play. Never in my life will I ever give these demented madmen anything – especially not control of my life. I refuse to be nervous those minutes before my flight takes off. A man of Middle Eastern descent on my flight is just another passenger to me. I will go to my job on Capitol Hill without thinking about a possible terrorist attack. I will go to a Colts game and enjoy myself. I will enjoy a walk down to the monuments. I will do all this and more because that is exactly what terrorists do not want. I challenge everyone reading this to live your life, not the life someone scared you into living.
I would love to tell you that flying is always safe, that you will always end up at your destination safe and on time. In a perfect world, this would be true. As the last weeks have showed us, this is far from a perfect world. The new security measures undertaken by the airlines and airports are still not flawless and probably never will be. However, a life spent worrying is no life at all.
Remember, it is your life, and only you can control you. So get on that flight, put on your favorite CD, lean the seat back, eat your bag of peanuts and catch up on that sleep you lost last weekend. Most importantly, enjoy the ride. You are living your American dream, and you deserve it.
-The writer is a senior majoring in international affairs.