Today, I’d like to take a side-step from the usual health and fitness banter to remember the events that took place 10 years ago.
For my generation, 9/11/2001 is without a doubt our Kennedy moment. Or our landing on the moon moment. Or our Pearl Harbor. It is a day that I can tell you almost to the minute what I was doing, who I was doing it with, and where we were doing it. I can also tell you that I very likely was the last person in the United States of America to find out what had happened. I knew nothing but an ordinary, ho-hum Tuesday, until after 11 o’clock in the morning.
And at that point, everything changed.
But in looking back on that fateful day, I realize I was hardly immediately effected by the events that took place. I was in college in Florida at the time. I had never been to New York City. And I really didn’t know anyone who was immediately impacted by the tragedy. I realized it was a big deal and that life would never be the same. This weekend, as millions look back on a day we will never forget, I pray that we as a country can relearn some of the lessons we should have learned that day and on the days that followed, yet for some reason we have completely forgotten.
Remember after the attacks happened, how nice everyone was? Out in public, people would smile at you, and even say hello. If you bumped into someone by accident, you’d say excuse me or apologize, and the person would smile and say it was no big deal.
On a larger scale, it didn’t matter if you were democrat or republican, you were American–and that was it. You could disagree with someone politically, but no one would have dared to attack that person’s personality.
As a country we were unified.
My how the mighty have fallen.
These days, we take what we want and could care less about the next guy. Trying to merge on to a busy highway? Good luck. Leave a cell phone on a counter or table, odds are someone is taking it to sell on ebay, as opposed to turning it in.
These days, the President gives a speech to congress, and a member of congress calls the President a liar out loud on the spot. Not only is this member not reprimanded, he is actually lauded by his party. These days when it looks like something may get done in a bipartisan way, one party backs out of the deal because they were only able to get 80-90% of what they wanted, not the full 100%. But if they were getting the full 100%, it wouldn’t be bipartisan, would it?
What happened to the days of Reagan working with Tip O’Neill to get things done? Or Clinton and Newt Gingrich putting politics aside for the betterment of our country? Why does it appear that Obama and John Boehner work together as well as oil and water? Why can’t they remember September 12, 2001, when all that mattered was being an American and doing what was best for each other and the country?
So on this day when we watch a special on TV, or notice our favorite football players wearing red, white, and blue cleats, I encourage you to remember the feelings you had on September 11. And remember the feelings that you had on the 13th, 25th, and 30th of that month as well. Remember when you were willing to overlook our differences, which at the time seemed so petty because something larger was going on.
Folks, the differences we had then are the same differences we have now. They were petty then. They are petty now. Do something nice for someone in your life. Preferably for someone you have had a disagreement with recently. Because at the end of the day, we are all Americans. We were all affected by the events that happened 10 years ago.
And even though we will never be the same, if we allow ourselves to, we can overcome anything by lending a hand to those in need, and overlooking the things that really don’t matter.
That’s what being an American is about.
Whether it’s September 11th or March 3rd.