I came downstairs to watch my dad drinking tea, his face bathed by the red fire of the twin towers ablaze on the television. Fifteen years ago today the 9/11 attacks changed the world. And they changed my world in particular. Me and others like me went from being unknown oddities in America to mistrusted, often reviled religious minorities.
But 9/11 also gave me a purpose. It gave me the opportunity to fight for those with less, to learn about the laws that protect all Americans and to work for a government agency that protects our homeland from the very same threats we faced on 9/11.
For me and many others, 9/11 is this contradiction of beauty and tragedy. The attack on America pulled this nation apart - resulting in wars without end, hatred against American Muslims, violations of our rights, and the creation of a massive security enterprise.
But 9/11 also led to increased knowledge about other religions, a government open to engaging with its citizens, and the creation of a new generation of activists and civil rights leaders. It's these positive outcomes of 9/11 that we should encourage.
The United States doesn't do a lot of things right. But the one thing the people of this country do without fail, is learn from failure. On this fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 let's do more than honor the memory of those lost, let's learn from it.