Every generation has an event that shakes them out of childhood and into the harsh reality of the adult world. For our parents, it was Vietnam. For our grandparents, it was the Korean war, the world wars. For us? In 1999 I thought it was the Columbine shootings. Thirteen innocent people died, people my age, killed by people my age. I felt a small part of my soul die with them as I realized that this world was not a happy ray of sunshine.

But I was wrong. Columbine was only a small pinprick compared to what hit us on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. On that day, we lost our innocense.

We watched in horror as planes exploded, towers collapsed, our capital was attacked right before our eyes on live TV. We literally saw thousands of people die right in front of us. This wasn't a sick, twisted movie, this was the sick, twisted reality. When I saw that airplane smash through that second tower, my innocense was shattered forever.

America is safe, America is strong, we're unstoppable, untouchable, unbreakable. No evil can touch us here, we're a peaceful nation. We help those in need, we fight back against injustice, no one would ever even think about hurting our wonderful nation. At least, that's what I thought before Tuesday. I thought that I lived in a bulletproof bubble, I thought my world was the safest place on earth. My bubble was popped in such a violent explosion I could never have even imagined.

No longer can I walk down the streets thinking all is right with the world. I can't look at an airplane without even more fear than I had before. I'll never be able to go to New York City and enjoy myself, knowing that city should be populated by thousands more people that it is. I can't fool myself into thinking that people are good at heart. I can't trick my mind into pretending that love permeates everyones soul, that everyone would wish for a peaceful world.

This is a time to pull together, America. Americans need to be strong for each other. But, what is an American? Is it a white, upper middle class suburbanite, like me? Is it a black, lower-middle class city dweller? Is it a hispanic? Is it an Asian engineer? Is it an Arab banker? An American is everyone in this country. EVERYONE needs to pull together. Don't turn on your Middle Eastern neighbor because they look like the terrorists. If you lived in France all your life, and the US bombed France, wouldn't you feel angry at the US as well, even though you're an American?

Leave the innocent people out of it, America. We need to go after the REAL culprits, whoever they may be. Not their country. Not their country's innocent people. Not the people of their race living in this country. We don't need to kill any more than is nessasary. How many more fathers, sons, daughters, children, mothers, cousins, uncles, best friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, granparents must die before our thirst for revenge is satiated? How many more innocent lives must be ripped away before we feel "justice" has been served? How many more times do I have to cry out to God, the foundation of this country, tears streaming down my face, to stop the carnage? How much longer do we have to wait to remember who this country is built upon? How many more essays must be written before this event fades into memory, just another date for our grandchildren to memorize?

How much longer, America?