Firefighter Tony James cries while attending the funeral service for New York Fire Department Chaplain Rev. Mychal Judge, who died while giving the last rites to a fireman in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Seventeen years ago, on a quiet September morning, we awakened our sleeping children for their school day, rushed to grab our cups of coffee, boarded flights bound for work and leisure and set forth on what seemed like any other day.
It was only a few short hours later that we stood in horror as an unspeakable act proceeded to unfold before our eyes.
“Was this an accident?” we asked at first. The events that followed quickly answered this question.
September 11, 2001 was a day of great tragedy for the United States. Americans were unprepared for such an event to happen on U.S soil. And yet, as Americans gathered around their televisions to watch the horrific events of that tragic day take place, it seemed every American had the same feelings brewing.
Pride. Patriotism. Unity.
“Our prayers and thoughts and words of consolation go out to all of those who have suffered, but one thing that happens here in this place is when an American suffers and people perpetrate acts against this country, we as a Ccongress and as a government stand united. And we stand together. Senators and House members. Democrats and Republicans will stand shoulder to shoulder to fight this evil that has perpetrated on this nation.
“We will stand together to make sure that those who have brought forth this evil deed will pay the price … We will stand with the president. We will stand with this government and we will stand as Americans together through this time. ” – House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hasket
Shortly after these words were spoken, Congress broke out into “God Bless America” while gathered on the steps of the capital building. At that time, ethnicity, religion, political preference and gender didn’t matter. Everyone was an American and, as Hasket stated, everyone was bound to band together as Americans and fight the evil that invaded the nation.
In the days to follow, Americans continued to band together to provide support in any way that they could — whether that meant sending first responders to ground zero or filling blood banks to donate what little they could.
Men and women signed up for the military to fulfill their sense of duty to the nation. American flags began to fly off the shelves as everyone had a deep desire to hang the Stars and Stripes. Differences no longer seemed to be of importance. Unity was key. Unity was what mattered.
Yet 17 years later, it would appear that unity no longer exists. It is almost as if that time of harmony never happened as neighbors turn on their neighbors over political differences.
Friendships no longer matter. Family members stop talking to other family members over political disagreements. It appears as if everyone is angry with everyone else if they perceive differences — differences that did not matter on that tragic day 17 years ago.
Instead of building relationships with our neighbors no matter their differences, people have taken to social media to promote their views and disgrace their neighbor over small matters of opinion.
What happened to the pride?
What happened to the patriotism?
What happened to the unity?
An entire generation has forgotten these values. An entire generation never experienced that sense of community. Instead we have chosen hate. Hate for one another over gender. Hate for one another over race. Hate for one another over religion. Hate for one another over political preference.
Hate was the very reason of tragedy that day.
Remember unity on this 9/11. Reach out and forget the differences. Break down the barriers we have created around ourselves and connection back to the the sense of community we felt on that day.
If we do not move beyond the hate that is festering, it will consume us..