It’s been eighteen years and one day since September 11, 2001.
Eighteen years and one day.
Just writing that made me shake my head in disbelief.
One would like to think our country going forward would be stronger, more united, and better than before such a tragedy. Unfortunately, when I look at our country today, I can’t help but shake my head again. We have clearly forgotten what it felt like to be an American, on September 12, 2001. We only have ourselves to blame.
On September 12, 2001, we were all in shock. The enormity of what took place in the last twenty-four hours had begun to set in. Seeing our country under attack, our way of life, our freedom, what we stood for, who we were as a country, united us like never before.
On September 12, 2001, the bond, unity, and kindness we showed toward one another was truly a sight to see. We looked at each other as Americans. Not as republicans or democrats. Not as gay or straight. Not by the color of our skin. We saw each other for what we had in common, not how we differed. We were Americans.
They say tragedy brings us closer together. However, we don’t need another tragedy to bring us back to the America we experienced on September 12, 2001.
We, us, the American people, the nearly 330 million of us, control how we “are” as a country. We are what makes America, America.
We have control.
Not the news media. Not politics. Not religion. Not skin color. Not differences. Not disagreement. Not varying opinions. We control how we treat each other. We control whether we are proud to be an American.
Yet we have somehow allowed the country to continue down a divisive path. We have somehow arrived at a point where being patriotic is viewed, by some, in a negative light. We have inexplicably come to a point, where some deem the United States of America, a horrible country founded on horrible principals and evil.
I am by no means an expert in history. There are certainly horrible things in our past as a country. I’m not writing this to suggest we are a country without our historical atrocities. However, you will never convince me that the ills of our past, somehow prevent us from returning to the September 12, 2001 version of America.
On September 12, 2001, we made it a point hold doors open for each other. We showed unyielded kindness. We hugged complete strangers. American flags were sold out and displayed nearly everywhere you looked. Pride for our country wasn’t something we disputed or argued about, it was embraced, expected, even comforting in our time of pain.
We looked at our flag as a symbol that united us, the best country in the world, the UNITED States of America. Not the Divided States of America.
Sadly, today when you look around, watch the news, or scroll through your favorite social media platform, you rarely see pride in being an American. More than anything, you see anger. You see division. You see arguments over what is causing the anger and division. Shockingly, you even see people being told they are wrong for being patriotic. How far we have fallen. A damn shame to be honest.
This is where WE are going wrong.
WE control our America. Yet it is sadly apparent we’ve forgotten WE are much more than our political affiliation, our religious affiliation, the color of our skin, the country we came from, or our ancestors came from. Because in the end, we are all Americans. We are not a homogenous country. Our strength is in our diversity, yet in 2019, you wouldn’t know it. For that, we should be ashamed.
In the “we have forgotten September 12, 2001” society, we are quick to call each other names, make accusations of being racist, misogynist, or xenophobic, at the drop of a hat, with no regard for the seriousness of such accusations. Such accusations are often made solely because someone doesn’t agree with you.
We have forgotten that tolerance is not predicated on agreement.
Absolute agreement isn’t necessary to be tolerant, accepting, or proud to be an American together. We can disagree about anything and still love each other, be American together.
We will always have differences. Instead of allowing them to divide us, it’s time we use them as a strength. That’s what our country is really about.
We can blame the news media. We can blame politicians. We can blame whatever we want to blame, however, in the end, our country is made up of us, the people. We control the overall sentiment in our country. We control the divisiveness or hopefully, the lack thereof.
And if you happen to agree with me, be the change. Be the American you were on September 12, 2001.
Be unapologetically proud to be an American.
Be proud and thankful you live in the United States of America.
It’s the greatest country in the world. Even with room for improvement, it’s still worthy of the pride and unity we exuded on September 12, 2001.
We owe it to ourselves, our country, and those we lost on September 11, 2001.
The Officer Next Door