When We Were United

This is a very difficult time for people, these later days of summer. What should be a time for welcoming fall,  shopping for new school clothes, picking out ugly sweaters, and pulling holiday boxes out of the attic, has, for the last thirteen years, been a time of grief and stark reminders of reality.

For the last thirteen years, not even the bravest of us can get on a plane and wonder, if just in the back of your mind, if you’re on the next disaster flight. The 21st century world differs greatly from the 21st century world in many ways, but no so much as it does in America’s psyche when it comes to national security.

I drive past the Louisville airport on my commute to work. I don’t think I’m the only one who has a brief flashback of 9/11 when I see the planes coming in or taking off. I don’t think I’m paranoid, because I know it isn’t likely going to happen the same way again, but so deep-rooted was that day’s calamitous impact that it really does still affect each and every one of us every day in some way.

It’s a conversation we can all  contribute to with our own personal stories about where we were that day, how it affected us, and when we think the next strike will be. We all have our political opinions and subscribe to certain conspiracy theories. But in the end tomorrow’s observance of 9/11 ought to remind us not of the politics surrounding the attacks, or pointing our fingers at who’s to blame, but it should cause us to recall  how, for a short time after the attacks, we were united as a country like our generation had never seen before.

Almost every car had an American flag clipped to its back window. Strangers were friendlier toward each other. Neighbors showed compassion that otherwise wouldn’t have been shown. Everyone, it seemed, at least for a short time, came together. The families of victims were suddenly America’s greatest concern – they became America’s families, whom I believe every one of them deserves medals of honor for their courage and strength, and the losses they’ve endured.

As terrible as those September days were  in the wake of the new millennium, I wish that camaraderie and unity stuck around a little longer.

If you’ve lived through a natural disaster, you know about the warm feelings of neighbors meeting each other and sharing each other’s stories, and helping each other clean up the street.

With 9/11, it was an entire nation that came together; not just a block or a neighborhood. But somewhere from then to now, we lost sight of that unity and love for one another.

Somewhere among presidential races, and racial court cases, we lost sight of what it means to be united, to stand together as one nation, to blindly practice goodwill toward one another.

Let tomorrow’s somber reminders cause us to reflect on those times when political aisles were torn down and there was no white and black between us. It didn’t matter who you voted for or who you spoke with at the water cooler. What mattered was that you are an American and you were affected as greatly as I was, and we are in this together.

Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

17 thoughts on “When We Were United

  1. Thank you for this spin on today. I’ll certainly never forget where I was nor can I forget the aftermath… The terrible upheaval and uncertainty all of us already in our country’s service faced… So other than keeping the reminder of reality in my heart every day (our way of life can change in an instant) and educating my children, I stay away from nearly all mention of this topic. It’s my grandmother’s birthday. It’s a day to be celebrated and I won’t let the terrorists take that from me, personally. But your refreshing and positive spin is something I can get on board with. Not only today, but every day, we need to strive for unity and pride in our country. Thank you for giving me that thought kernel.


  2. I keep my memories of that day to myself for now. I’m unable to properly express the myriad of emotions, as many others can attest. But very clearly I can feel what I felt as I sat in my skyscraper watching that first tower fall and the sinking, painful ache we felt towards those directly in it’s path. It’s overwhelming still. My friends and coworkers all knew people that were there. We all had people there, everyone sitting in that conference room. There was no choice but to let our raw humanity reach out to do whatever we could to help, or comfort those in need. I wish people were as kind as they were on 9/12, and the week following.


  3. Yesterday I had to ignore the prompt for the WordPress Post-a-Day challenge and write about Sept. 11. I watched TV programs reshowing the event, as I think it’s important to remember the horror, the sadness, our vulnerability, and as you say, that “Somewhere among presidential races, and racial court cases, we lost sight of what it means to be united, to stand together as one nation, to blindly practice goodwill toward one another.” That is so true and something else that should not be forgotten either. The animosity the surrounds politics and politicians, Democrats vs. Republicans, is inappropriate and divisive. People showed on 9/11 that they were Americans first, and caring human beings above all. Many people prayed to God openly on that day, in the presence of others, and no one cared which God it was that they were addressing.
    My blog post is http://valschallenge.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/today/. Stop by!


  4. I’ll never forget that day. I didn’t even find out about it until after noon. I had taken my mother, who lived with us, to an optometrist appointment and they were closed. I didn’t have radio or TV on. I had no idea what happened. I wanted to honor you for following me by nominating you for the One Lovely Blog Award. It’s an award bloggers give to each other to share interesting things about themselves. The logo is rather unmasculine, though. I just wanted to thank you for following me. For more information, you can visit my blog. Thanks again. 🙂


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