It was 12 years ago today that the United States was attacked. Everyone knows the date and, aside from the very young, remembers where they were when they heard the news.
It was an awful attack and forever changed our nation. At first, there was a galvanizing effect in which we all stood together. Members of Congress even stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and sang “God Bless America.” Today, the idea of such unity is unthinkable. So what happened to us? Time and distance. And yet today is a reminder of what transpired that fateful morning and how it showed the worst of humanity, and then the best of humanity. Forever etched in our minds should be the effort of first responders who bravely put their lives on the line to save as many people as possible even without knowing the full range of events that were unfolding. The stories are myriad and varied and we should think of the gallant effort of that day.
But we should also remind ourselves of the negative aspects as well. We were attacked and innocent people were killed. Families were ripped apart and fathers, mothers, daughters and sons were taken from their loved ones. We must be resolute in our own reminders of the meaning of those attacks as the repercussions are with us today. In the name of national security, our privacy has been violated. In the name of national security, we have engaged in two costly wars — both in terms of finances and the loss of life. Much has been done to protect us and, for the most, the actions have been successful. But not all. It is still a work in progress and it is key for us all to be mindful of what type of society we wish to have as we move ahead.
Much has changed over the past 12 years since the attack while many things have remained the same. As we remember Sept. 11, 2001, we should be mindful of the sacrifice, of the loss and the way we saw, in the days that immediately followed those attacks, that as Americans we have more in common than differences.