Where has unity of 9/11 gone?

Published 12:13 am Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years after terrorists attacked our nation, has anything good come out of 9/11?

Throughout the day today Americans from all walks of life will recount the details of where they were on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. TV specials and other commemoration ceremonies have been forcing us to relive each minute of the day that left most Americans wondering if the world was ending.

The fear felt on 9/11 was palpable. Throughout the morning of the attacks, the unfolding events just kept getting worse.

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First one plane hit a tower.

Then another.

Then word that smoke was coming from the Pentagon.

Then reports other planes were hijacked.

No one knew when the terror would end that day. Details would soon follow and within a month, our nation was at war.

For generations of Americans 9/11 was the opening act of what would become our nation’s war on terror. A decade later and the war has claimed more than double the lives lost on 9/11.

Interestingly, today everyone talks about where they were when they learned of the attack.

For me the attacks are images regrettably burned into my memory. The most memorable part to me was what happened the days after the attacks, but rarely do we focus on this aspect of 9/11.

We focus on the work of the attackers, not how America reacted once the dust had settled.

After Americans began getting an understanding of what had occurred, things started getting back to normal, at least a little, and Americans began realizing how much they had in common.

The image that stuck with me on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, was seeing someone outside cutting the grass.

It was a brief moment of normal after a full day of the abnormal and terrifying.

In the next several days, something truly beautiful happened in America — we all came together.

Suddenly, our differences didn’t matter.

Race, political party affiliation, economic background, none of it was important anymore.

America became the most patriotic place in the world. We were literally oozing with red, white and blue.

The weeks after 9/11 were among the most American-feeling times of my life, but they were fleeting.

Ten years, two wars, 6,200 American soldiers’ lives and a pile of debt later, our country seems divided by an ocean of differences.

For a short time after 9/11, it appeared that the attacks brought our nation together. It was the complete opposite reaction of what the terrorists wanted.

They hoped the attacks would break our will and divide our resolve.

Ten years later, the jury is still out on what the legacy of 9/11 is on our nation’s direction.

Let’s hope we have the strength and resolve to overcome our differences and get back to the America we know in mid-September 2001.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.