Can we get back to ‘United We Stand’?


If you’re old enough to remember, there was fear, sorrow, anger, and ultimately resolve. As Americans, we were all in this together. If you are too young to have experienced this yourself, you have undoubtedly seen the images and learned about that day.

Twenty years later Americans are divided as much as any time in our history.

Last week I had the unfortunate/fortunate experience of attending the funeral of the mother of someone I grew up with and went to school with. A sad occasion for sure. We lost one of the great ‘Moms’ in our small town who kept an eye on us as we grew up.

Several of my school mates showed up to pay respect to this great lady and her daughter who is one of our own. Our group hung out together for a long time after the funeral, catching up on each other’s lives and embellishing the stories of the adventures and misadventures we share. Even though the event had been a solemn occasion, as I drove home I felt ebullient. These childhood friends, whom I seldom see, still support and respect each other. We have seen each other’s strengths and weaknesses, fears and bravery. We’ve had disagreements and even fights, but are still there for each other all these years later. We respect each other.

Why can’t this microcosm of life extend to the macro version of America? Of course we can’t all grow up together in the idillic life of a small town. But we surely can show the same level of respect to those we don’t know, that we do to those we know best.

On this 20th anniversary of 9/11 let’s at least take a time out from directing angst and vitriol at our political opponents. This anniversary provides the perfect time to re-evaluate and re-dedicate ourselves to the golden rule.

Remembering those who lost their lives on that day is something we must do. Honoring those who have served fighting terrorism in Afghanistan is important to them and to those who gave their lives there. It is a big part of helping their families heal, too. Commemorating this date means the rest of us remember and support each other. A part of the observation of this day must also be teaching those too young to remember first hand, so they will have an understanding of what happened then and the follow on activity.

It is a matter of respect for all impacted that day and by subsequent events.

Once this anniversary has passed, the feelings and memory will fade again. But here’s hoping the residual respect we feel for those protecting our freedom, and keeping us safe, will extend to all of those in our lives. If we can all make an effort to show respect, even to those we disagree with, our lives and country will be much better for it.