The ensuing damage was devastating. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters didn’t make it home. Thanksgiving had a few empty seats that year. Christmas had a few less presents under the tree. Widowed companions became vulnerable overnight, and relatives had the Sisyphean task of telling children why their loved-ones were never coming home.
The chaos of 9/11 was hell on Earth, and the world mourned for the United States. As expected, we shed our tears that day and held our families a little tighter. And while we mourned the loss of our fellow Americans, something magical happened. In an act of solidarity, people across our great land put aside politics and came together as one. This fusion saw us strip ourselves of the proverbial “R” and “D” that we so seldom cling to. We united together under one nation, under one God, and under one flag – we were Americans.
Over the years, we have delved back into our camps, opting to put campaign politics above the common values we share as Americans. We still honor those that died that fateful day, but the bond we had has dissipated. What was once strong in 2001 is now weak. Patriotism flows through our veins, yet it only displays itself in a crucial time. We have become a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to being patriotic.
Where did we lose this love for one another? It shouldn’t take a national tragedy to bring us together. We should always show compassion, always show more love for one another. We are failing in this department, and we need to fix it. We are all Americans, but if you turn on your TV, and the media says otherwise. Let’s not let the pundits define us. We are better than that, and I still believe in the “shining city on a hill.”
For me, 9/11 is my JFK assassination. Like the space shuttle Challenger disaster, it’s the one disaster that will forever be ingrained in my mind. I’ll never forget watching it happen in school as a ten-year-old boy in the fourth grade. Seeing each plane disintegrate into those towers changed me that day. Watching people leap to their deaths because plummeting to the Earth was a better way to die than being burned alive, will always haunt me.
And while 9/11 will always be a sad event, there were moments that lifted the hearts of every American. President George Bush’s bullhorn speech at ground zero, Sammy Sosa circling Wrigley Field with the American flag, the first pitch of game 3 of the World Series, and many more. These moments showed us what unity looked like, and we as Americans need to regain that.
Today is a day to look back and reflect on that fateful day. It’s a time to grieve and think about how it altered our lives. But it’s also more than that. 9/11 is a day that should test us and make us stronger. Today should make us question how strong our patriotism is, and what we can do to reinforce it. Let’s not bottle up the pride we all share. We have our differences, and we shouldn’t abandon them. But everyone in our great nation bleeds red, and we must realize that we are on the same team. Let’s use this day to challenge us to be better people, better citizens, and most importantly, better Americans.
God Bless the U.S.A