What I remember most, is not the day itself, but the days that followed.
I was one of the lucky ones, I suppose. I lost no family members, no friends, no colleagues in the triad of disaster that day. As so many others, I simply watched in disbelief.
But the precious days that followed, at least in my small hometown, gave birth to a feeling I’d never before experienced. For a few short days, things were just different.
I think it must have been what it’s supposed to be to feel like an American.
On the day after 9-11, cars proudly displayed American flags waiving through the rush-hour commute. And there was no road rage. If someone cut you off that day – well, it was no big deal. We had our families and our futures ahead. We were alive and safe so we let it all slide.
In the few short days that followed 9-11, handshakes were firmer, hugs were tighter – we were actually civil, united, kinder and gentler.
The day after 9-11 all politics were cast aside. We all supported President Bush. And we wanted him to kill Osama bin Laden. He was the commander-in-chief and we stood united in his leading the charge.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could’ve somehow captured our collective sentiment and made time stand still? But time moved on. And eventually, we returned to our former selves.
Yesterday, Americans across the country shared the memories of 9-11. We gave tribute and honor to the fallen, and we celebrated our resiliency as a people. It’s an honorable thing we do in our remembrance. But I can only think about how much we’ve forgotten.
In the days that followed 9-11 we were so … well … together. It’s quite the paradox that we remember a former time of unity during such a present time of divisiveness.
Today, we cast outright hate toward our commander-in-chief. And as the election approaches, we also question the morals of his opponent.
Politically, we disrespect the beliefs of our friends. Racially and ethnically we continue to build impenetrable walls. Economically, we endorse growing the margin between the wealthy and the poor while children go hungry.
Yesterday we all talked about our memories of that day. We made endless social media posts with powerful visuals recalling the day we came together as a nation and we made ourselves feel good for a brief moment in time.
Today, history will repeat itself, and yesterday will be forgotten. How does that happen?
I think about all those who gave their lives, and what they might say about our current state of affairs.
- 97 Percent of Adults Remember Where They Were 9/11 (newamericamedia.org)