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September 11th, 2013 marks the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America, and no one needs a blog post to remind them of that or the significance of this date in American history. However, it does seem appropriate to take a moment to observe and appreciate our freedom, particularly the freedom of expression and the freedom to create art and music about any subject we choose, no matter how controversial.

Throughout American history, music has always been a crucial part of grieving, healing, and moving forward bravely, and September 11th is no exception. As we all spend today remembering the tragedy and those we lost, maybe these songs can help us all understand what happened and how we are moving into the future.

Alan Jackson “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?”

Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning,” is particularly poignant, as Jackson never tells us how to feel or injects too many personal opinions. He simply asks us to recall where we were and what we felt that morning, and that memory is far more powerful than any words could ever be.

Darryl Worley, “Have You Forgotten?”

Darryl Worley, on the other hand, doesn’t pull any punches and tells you exactly what he thinks we should do in his call to action, “Have You Forgotten?”

Neil Young “Let’s Roll”

From the second you hear the sound of a cell phone ringing at the beginning of this song; you know the story and feel the rush of emotion. Neil Young’s straight forward retelling of the heroic actions taken by the passengers aboard flight 93, reminds us of the everyday men and women who rose to the occasion that morning, sacrificing their lives to save others.

Toby Keith “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue”

Toby Keith’s anthem “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” will likely secure a page in the history books someday—not so much for the controversy that surrounded it, but for the way Toby was able to capture the emotions of so many Americans with one simple line.

Bruce Springsteen “The Rising”

Leave it to Bruce Springsteen to capture the feelings of hope, rebirth, and optimism in the American spirit in this uplifting classic that carries us all forward into a new day with the feeling that we can overcome anything.

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