Today is a day that seems to be revered in the hearts of Americans all over the country. Eleven years ago, planes piloted by terrorists strategically crashed into New York and the Pentagon. I opine that part of the devastation was not necessarily the terrorist act itself; there have been shooting sprees and massacres in American history prior to this one without the level of standing remembrance and reverence. No, the reason this stands out for us was the chosen method in which to inflict terror and take lives. Airplanes, the safest, fastest, and most cost efficient means of travel for long distances, were the weapons of choice. Also, the World Trade Center was the target: two, larger than life buildings in New York that stood out in the sky as two conquering titans. In those buildings were people who, just like us, went about their daily lives. They woke up that morning and drove to work not knowing it was their last day of life. September 11th was etched into our consciousness because every day millions of people board planes without a second thought, as if it were routine. Every day we all go to work expecting to go home that night and have what we have planned for dinner. But for thousands that day, this was not the case. There were lots of lives lost, and lots of changes in our world followed, whether it is politically, socially, or economically. The terrorists accomplished a cunningly evil agenda; to forever have us cast in fear.
Here in the United States, 9/11 provided us with a uniting solidarity unlike any time in American history. American history is rife with struggles of people, whether it be the burdens of immigrants toiling in pursuit of the American dream after fleeing their native country, or a oppressed or underrepresented group seeking their civil rights. In the wake of 9/11, the refrain for every person within this country’s borders was the same: God Bless America and its constituents. For a brief moment of time, people put aside the daily dividers of race, sexual affiliation, religion, and focused on national pride. Instead of ‘us versus us’, it was ‘us versus them’, whoever the defined bad guy was who would dare threaten the livelihood of the greatest nation on earth.
9/11/12 finds us at a different impasse, however. The United States, for all of its enlightenment and progressive thinking, seems to have regressed into a mob mentality. Everything is strictly defined in terms of black and white, and if you are not in total agreement with one side, then you are with the other side. The narrative is played out and reinforced by the media, and at times the country seems on the brink of an all-out conflict. It was once American to challenge the power structure, since out of that challenge the United States would continue to grow and progress. Now it is considered an affront to freedom. There is no such thing as discourse, only shouting matches, where one side looks to overwhelm the other with their point instead of seeking compromise.
This is an election year, where the vitriol of the political campaign has brought forth all of the ugly aspects of American life. Its safe to wonder if we even learned the lessons of 9/11 at all. That’s why the outpouring of ‘Never Forget’ seems so shallow and trivial; because tomorrow some will forget and call gay marriage ‘an abomination against God that invites judgment upon our country’. Never mind that judgment is reserved for God according to the scriptures (Ecclesiastes 12:14 if you want an example). We will go back to our racial profiling, gender baiting ways and not even acknowledge each other as American.
My heart does go out to the first responders, the people who lost lives, and the passing of the American civility that day. Since then our society is becoming more and more polarized and extreme. On another note, grandmother was born on 9/11. So, forever this day will be a celebration of life for me, as she has been a cornerstone in mine. No, I will never forget the fateful day of 9/11, seeing the smoke rise from the tower, watching on television as the tower crashed to the ground, the panic of the bystanders in the street and overall how aghast we all were. However, with life come laughter, happiness, and opportunity. I think those who lost life that day would want to provide us with that enduring gift. Moreover, they would want us to carry the memory and lesson of 9/11 with us daily, as opposed to a moment of silence prior to us going at each other’s necks.
Read more on Conflict.