Do you remember where you were at the time of the collapse of the Twin Towers 20 years ago? We do. With the recent 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 Twin Towers catastrophe, we watched the TV replays of the disaster and what unfolded immediately afterward. We thought about the phrase, “Never forget.” Yet, we think sometimes we do forget. We go about our business each day and often take things for granted.
However, reliving the tragedy of that day made us remember that “Freedom isn’t free.” We watched again the collapse of the Twin Towers and people running down the street covered in thick gray dust. We felt extreme sadness. Maybe you also experienced those same feelings as you saw history replayed.
The commentators talked about the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. They also covered the fourth plane, Flight 93, that crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. Speculation was that this plane had been headed for the White House or the U.S. Capitol.
That plan was averted due to the bravery of the passengers on board, led by Tom Burnett Jr, originally from Minnesota. After calling his wife and telling her they were going down, Burnett rallied passengers to storm the cockpit. His final words, “We’re going to do something!” and the words of another passenger, Todd Beamer, who said, “Let’s roll,” ring in our ears as a call to action. The plane crashed. That was tragic, yet their heroism avoided possibly even more destruction.
Every alphabetical list of the victims of 9/11 starts with another Minnesotan, Gordon Aamoth Jr, of Wayzata. The Wayzata Conservancy recently constructed a memorial to honor Aamoth and all the people who lost their lives that day. Now that the 20-year remembrance ceremonies have passed, we must not go back to our lives as usual and forget the sacrifices of so many.
Remember how, after the 9/11 tragedy, there was a real resurgence of the feeling that we are Americans united? We are a community. We’re people who love our country. We love each other and we stand together! Flags that had been folded away were, once again, proudly displayed. We saw pictures of people from both sides of the political aisle standing together, holding hands and displaying the American flag, and then singing patriotic songs on the front steps of Congress.
Now, in stark contrast, we have much division in our country. Division over politics. Division over the coronavirus. Division over what is taught in schools. Division over our police departments. Division in families over whether or not to wear a mask. There’s even discussion about getting rid of the Declaration of Independence and changing the Constitution. Some want to go so far as tearing down statues of our first president, George Washington and the “Great Emancipator,” Abraham Lincoln!
There are murders every day. Angry and impatient people start fights and sometimes even shoot or stab each other over not being served fast enough. And how is all that working out? Where is our tolerance and understanding?
So, let’s look at the bigger picture to see what each of us can to do to start getting back to caring for each other. Remember that feeling from 9/11 that we’re all in this together and we can make it through? We need to love each other and help each other. At the time of 9/11, first responders, fire fighters, health care workers and regular people stood up and did what was needed to be done. It didn’t matter what the color of a person’s skin was, or their religion or background or anything. We cared!
Let’s not focus on what separates us. We can still have our diversity, yet we can be united. After all, our national motto is “E pluribus unum” which means “out of many, one.” Let’s pull together! Our community is not only our families and our neighbors, it’s also the town we live in, our state, our nation and the big community of our world.
What about you? Will you stand with us? One thing we can do is develop an attitude of gratitude. We’re grateful for our freedom and to be living in America. Let’s be grateful for all the things we take for granted every day! Next, we can show understanding, respect and love for our country and each other. Let’s put the last words of Tom Burnett Jr and Todd Beamer into action – “We’re going to do something!” and “Let’s roll!” Then together we can create more unity in the community.