The Unity of September 11, the Disunity of September 2011

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Amazing, we sit in reflection of the destructive events from 10 years ago with a domestic destructive force still disrupting our lives.

Amazing, we sit in reflection of the destructive events from 10 years ago with a domestic destructive force still disrupting our lives.

It is not only very much in vogue for Americans to reflect upon the events of Sept. 11, 2001, but even more so, it is very much correct and honorable to do so.

Without having to harp upon our collective national scar, the events of that fateful day replay around this time of the year as both a hazy dream of disbelief and a vivid memory as real as the sky above. It was a moment where the term “American” meant more than any adjective attached to it with a hyphen: “African”, “Jewish”, “Muslim”, “White”, “Native”, and “Latino”, among others.

The resonating effect from that soul-shaking act of war was the creation of a mindset and a movement. The feeling from 9/12 prompted a 9/12 movement, one that remembered that America was indeed a diverse nation united under a common set of beliefs and values. Despite our differences through our diversity, we had a common spirit that held the unfettered belief that we were one nation, united under God, and indivisible regardless of the external threats that came against our nation from within through the terror attacks.

Sadly, that spirit has drifted away, just has the faded memory of us finding common ground through challenging times had eroded away as well.

From the fighting between Congress and a former White House administration over the Iraq War (and statements from a sitting Speaker of the House eventually accusing the CIA of misleading congressional leaders on matters of national security) to the inconsistencies of calls from the current White House (ones alternating between hyper-partisanship when politically convenient and post-partisanship when politically compromised), America has not been able to find that common cord of respect and love amongst fellow Americans since the immediate moments of Sept. 11. Even tragic national events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) shooting earlier this year have triggered rounds of criticism playing out in the media, fresh with overcharged finger-pointers that have blamed multiple rounds of bureaucratic failures on racism (even with a Black mayor in New Orleans) and insane, godless killings on right-wing extremism and bull-eyes on political maps.

Although we will never forget the pain and human loss of 9/11, our modern-day American flaws of having short memories and limited delayed gratification capabilities comes crucially into play as we look back after 10 years. Lost in the haze of the memories of the smoke billowing in the skies from that day was the remembrance that people died because of who we are as a nation and what we stand for as a people. Lost in the details of the Sept. 11 reality, among other things, is the honorable act of self-sacrifice that the patriots of Flight 93 incurred to prevent an attack on Capitol Hill. Another lost detail is how during the most challenging of times, American leaders such as President Bush and New York’s Mayor Giuliani made certain to quash divisive stereotypes and fears, knowing that our open wounds could lead to less healing and a loss of the American essence in the face of the tragedies we faced.

But today?

Our elected leaders in Washington and elsewhere have garnered the reputation of sitting idly by as unsubstantiated claims and toxic vitriol have been free to fling around the political and social realms of today’s America, even as we have faced increases in domestic violence and internal near-miss terror threats, decreases in jobs and educational successes, and the disappearance of America’s perfect credit rating and honor around the world, among other things. Lost in today’s “indictments” of anti-patriotism, racism, class warfare, socialism, and treason is the fact that we once found strength in our differences and found a way to cling to common values and use diversity (and debate) as tools to build a stronger nation. Now, our nation – from the president to us the constituents – generally seems fixated to use those differences to fight to see who will sit on top of the American mountaintop that is rapidly becoming a molehill. If the terror attacks of Sept. 11 knocked down buildings and shook the foundation of our domestic security, the political and societal attacks (i.e., calls of racism against the Tea Party, racist attacks on President Obama based outside of policy, demonizing Christian values in America, etc.) occurring in September 2011 are blasting away the pillars of our national values and the grandest hopes for a future full of liberty and cooperative prosperity.

We must remember the sacrifice and loss of 9/11, but as we do so this week and beyond past this 10th year commemoration, we must also begin to remember through thought, act, and deed that we carried on as a nation past those events 10 years ago out of honor for those that lost their lives in 2001 – just as well as for those that defended this nation and made the ultimate sacrifice before and after that fateful day in September. Our lives must reflect everything we felt on the moments after 9/11: that collective notion that we are united, unbreakable, undeterred, and determined to live and prosper as the greatest nation in the world. Our nation must be one where some sense of common decorum and common values are triumphed again, just as they were on 9/12. Our patriotism is unfulfilled if we are not inspired to act with Americanism in the truest sense starting this Sept. 11 – even if we the people must serve as the examples for others to follow suit.

Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator, community activist, and the host of the weekday radio show “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” starting Oct. 3. Find him Saturdays with host TJ Holmes and fellow pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 9:30 AM CDT (10:30 ET / 7:30 AM PT) Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr, on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook , and www.lennymcallister.com .

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