With a death toll of nearly 3,000 people, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, remain the single deadliest attack against America in U.S. history. Not yet a year into his presidency, George W. Bush addressed the nation shortly after the attacks with those now-iconic words:
“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended. The resolve of our great nation is being tested. But make no mistake: We will show the world that we will pass this test.”
Eighteen years later, have we passed the test? This question continues to stir debate for pundits on both sides of the aisle, and it’s not something I want to get into for this column.
But on a personal level, if you remember 9/11, can you say you are a better person now than you were then?
Sept. 10, 2001, was just another day in America. Many of the same issues facing our nation today were a part of the national conversation at that time. There seemed to be no shortage of things for Americans to fight about.
Then, when the events of the next day unfolded and rocked the world, everything changed. People quit blaming each other for their problems, and all they wanted to do was love each other. Prayers were offered. Church attendance and service to others increased. People were willing to stop fighting and forgive.
In the wake of a terrible tragedy, people had faith that God had a plan for them and that everything would be all right in the end.
Those who witnessed the events of 9/11 vowed they would never forget. But after 18 years, we have shifted in the opposite direction. Conflict in our personal lives is at an all-time high. There’s something new to be outraged about every day, it seems, and we’re more concerned about winning the fight and perpetuating the conflict than we are about right and wrong.
Recently, as I was reflecting on circumstances in my personal life, I realized that maybe my perceptions of myself, in some ways, is not entirely accurate. Maybe I have issues I wasn’t aware of that I need to change.
Coming to that realization was hard to accept. I had to dig deep to find out who I really am. But now that I’m aware of it, it frees me to help end a vicious cycle of conflict and finally move on.
There is a purpose and a plan for each of us.
“We promised ourselves the country would never forget (9/11),” Travis Snowder, a local business owner, told me last year. “As generations come and go, that’s a hard promise to keep. In the face of this new generation, we all have a responsibility to maintain this legacy that’s changed our world.”
This Sept. 11, I invite you to take a personal inventory. Take time to reflect and ask yourself who you really are. If you’re sincere and willing to accept the truth, the results will be miraculous.
If everyone took time to do this, America would find its soul again and become the nation it was on Sept. 12, rather than be stuck in Sept. 10.