It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t remember where they were when they first learned that two planes had collided with the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
The mood in the nation shifted. Suddenly, every front porch bore an American flag, young people were beating down the doors of each military branch to enlist, and our nation was the most united it’s been in many of our lifetimes.
Sunday marks the 10-year anniversary of those attacks. Since then, the U.S. military killed Osama Bin Laden, President Barack Obama has slowly pulled soldiers out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that urgency to bond and be one as a nation has faded.
It’s healthy after going through a traumatic experience to heal and move on. It’s also important that we remember what happened, those we lost that day and the many who’ve sacrificed their lives since then to ensure a safe and free America. But what about that camaraderie that we once had?
"Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others."
—Plato (428-348 B.C.E.),
classical Greek philosopher, mathematician
It’d be wonderful if we could experience that solidarity sans the traumatic experience. If we could feel united every day, not because we are fearful or because we share a common enemy, but because we wanted to.
A unity like that, however, does not come from one significant event but, rather, many small ones that are enough to make a difference in our lives. Subtle things, such as opening the door for the person walking behind you, letting a fellow driver into traffic or even just saying hello to a stranger, are what makes us feel less alone and more like part of a society. Take The Foundation for a Better Life’s recent commercial, in which the teenager chases down a city bus just to return a woman’s purse. Acts of kindness such as this astound us. They are rare, but they shouldn’t be.
Sept. 11 was a horrific event, and we all hope that no one has to experience something like it ever again, but if we did, wouldn’t it be easier if we already had each other’s backs?