NOTE FROM NORM: America’s Best Days Are Yet To Come
It’s hard to believe that 18 years ago on a beautiful September Day 19 terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 innocent people in the United States.
These weren’t just “some people that did something.”
These were cold-hearted, craven and merciless killers who attempted to destroy America and its values on this day 18 years ago.
Every American alive on that day will remember where they were when terrorists struck America.
I remember as vividly as I remember where I was when President Kennedy – Martin Luther King, Jr. – and Bobby Kennedy were gunned down.
Yet as sure as those tragic days of assassination have gotten further behind me so too have the tragic days of 9/11.
While I will never forget, nor should we ever forget, the day of 9/11 and those horrific days, weeks and months afterward, I believe we must find our way forward as a nation.
Much like the nation came together after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, America came together after 9/11.
World War II was a war against despots and dictators who were determined to craft a hateful and evil world in which they would rule for thousands of years.
The forces of freedom, liberty and democracy ultimately prevailed in a global conflict that cost the world the lives of upwards of 85 million people.
The Global War on Terror which began shortly after 9/11 and continues to this day has cost the lives of thousands of Americans – and those allied with us in this fight – with no clear end in sight.
It would be difficult to calculate the lives lost to terrorists since 9/11.
This much, though, is easy to calculate – thanks to the selfless services of our men and women in the armed forces, our security and intelligence services, and thousands of men and women we will never know or see, America has been protected against similar attacks in the past 18 years.
This success belongs to no single President – nor any political party – it belongs to those who have served America with distinction and honor against enemies, foreign and domestic, who are determined to take from us our liberty, our freedom and, if necessary, our lives.
The day of 9/11 will be, as it should be, commemorated with solemn observances and reflections and remembrances of those who lost their lives that day.
Speeches and honor will be directed to the men and women who ran into danger to save those who could be saved – and to those who could not.
In this day of reflection, though, we must continue to turn our focus to the future of this great nation of ours and what we hope to be for the next generation of Americans – and the next generation of people throughout the world – who seek to live free from fear and repression.
So much – far too much – of our day-to-day lives have become consumed by what it is that divides us as Americans.
Truth be told, the democracy that has allowed social media to flourish in America – and to create connections to people the world over – is also paying a price for the all-too frequent conflict that consumes us on digital platforms too numerous to mention.
Eighteen years ago, Americans came together in a way that one may have to struggle to see us doing again eighteen years later should a similar attack find its way in our lives.
I don’t believe its because Americans feel any less strongly about the values that have been the bedrock of who we are as a nation.
Yet, we find more obstacles and impediments that get in the way of us simply being willing to stand up for one another – look out for one another – and put aside our differences with one another to be better for one another.
America today is not more divided than we have ever been before. It can feel that way because when we log-on to our computer – or our smartphone – or watch the t.v. – or listen to the radio – we seem to be yelling at one another or trying to yell over one another.
But what passes for conflict today is merely a squabble compared to the Civil War.
The feeling of dread and doom is barely an anxious breath when seen in the context of America in the 1960s.
We’ve been through bad and worse in America.
It doesn’t make it any less imperative, though, for us to reassert our values as Americans in these times.
As we gather as a nation this day to reflect on 9/11 it should compel us to remind ourselves that we are a young democracy.
A vital and vibrant one.
Liberty and justice for all is still a clarion call to a restless bunch of a new generation of Americans seeking to establish their own imprint on a nation in which their freedom and liberty to do so is not just respected but protected by a Constitution.
We are still the land of the free and the home of the brave.
We aren’t a nation at a crossroads between freedom and liberty and justice for all.
We are a nation with options and opinions and ideas – some similar – some not so much – on how we should achieve these things – for all.
What a remarkable privilege to be in a nation in which these conflicts aren’t something to fear but something to embrace.
If we can once again find our way to ultimately agree that our approaches may not be the same – but our goals and objectives are and always will be –I believe that America’s best days are yet to come.