Today marks the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It should be a time to reflect not only on the attacks and on those who we lost that day, but also on who we were as a nation in the days that followed.
Sign in to your Facebook account or check your Twitter feed and you will see friend after friend posting “Never Forget.” And they are right. And we won’t. But in addition to never forgetting the attack and never forgetting those we lost, we must also never forget that out of the rubble of the Twin Towers rose a nation united. In the days and weeks that followed 9/11, we saw a human capacity for courage and kindness and generosity that warmed even the coldest and most cynical hearts.
It is been twelve long years since September 11, 2001. In the years following the attack we have lived through both triumphant and tumultuous times. We exacted revenge in the mountains of Afghanistan as a unified nation. We walked blindly into the quicksand of Iraq. We have seen the social media revolution of Facebook and Twitter. We endured the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. We elected and then re-elected our first black president. We tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden. We passed a first step towards healthcare for all Americans. And still we have sunk deeper into the divisions of partisan politics than we have in recent memory. The highs have been euphoric and the lows have been downright terrifying.
In the tumultuous times we live in today, it is often hard to remember the nation we were in the days that followed 9/11. It seems too far gone. A nation at a different time and in a different place. It’s been easy to retreat into the noisy cauldron of partisan politics. And that’s fine. Our country was founded on the principle that our elected leaders should fiercely and vigorously debate the issues of the day. It ensures that only the best ideas receive enough support to become law.
But the fierce debates in Congress and at local rallies and kitchen tables all across the country can cause us to forget. We get down on America and the nasty partisanship we see on the news every day. But when I see “Never Forget”, I think of the nation we were and the nation we still are. We must never forget that underneath political masks we wear lies a good and decent nation. Our capacity for courage and kindness and generosity is still there. While our days are spent down in the trenches of partisan politics that our founders purposefully dug for us, when we need to, America will climb right out and once again stand tall on the firm ground of a united nation.
Take some time today. Watch the news coverage from 9/11. Read the names of those we lost. And then look at the Freedom Tower that now stands on that hallowed ground and remember the nation we were in the days that followed. We are still that nation.
9/11 News Coverage:
Names of those we lost: courtesy of CNN
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