I have a very clear memory of September 11, 2001. I remember vividly where I was, who was with me, the chatter all around me. I can still hear my mom reminding me to pray for the families who had lost loved ones and I can still see my dad crying in his chair as we watched the news. I remember it all.
I’m certain that no other day in my life has shaped my American identity quite like this one. I’ve been to the memorial, I’ve walked the museum. I’ve talked with New Yorkers. I look at our flag differently. I sing the anthem differently. This day shifted something in me.
After 20 years, there’s one thing I remember most about this day and the weeks/months that followed – we were Americans first before anything else. No identity politics, no left vs right, no us vs them.
We were Americans first and foremost. We were heart broken, enraged, proud, a world of emotions and we did so with linked arms and with deep love and care for one another.
I can’t speak to any back door dealings in Washington – I didn’t have a seat to that show – I’m talking about the American people and the way we leaned on one another in the midst of crisis. The way we rallied around one another and held each other up.
On this special anniversary, my prayer is that we find our way back to that.
That our identity as Americans would be found in our deep love and care for one another.
That we would no longer listen to pundits and instead listen to one another.
That we would lay down self for the sake of service to one another.
That we would tend to the wounds of our country instead of attacking one another.
That our eyes would be focused forward rather than to the right or to the left.
That we would be Americans first.