Tuesday, September 11, 2012
I'm a die-hard patriot. September 11th shook my foundation as an American, but until this year, I had not visited New York City. Now my thinking has changed. I went to NYC for Labor Day to go to the U.S. Open (my PhD celebration). I had no idea about The Survivor Tree... I read the picture book by Cheryl Somers Aubin (a must if you haven't read it) and it made Sept. 11, 2001, so relevant to me in a different way. So many people were impacted that day, lives changed, and our perspective changed. But it brought out the best in us in so many ways, in our nation's unity, and it strengthened our resolve as Americans, as survivors. We are not the same since that day. Innocence is gone. Naïveté is gone. And sadly, the unity is waning. The political ends are more polarized than ever, but as Americans, we can bridge that gap, because what's most important to this country is not our affiliation, not a policy that affects so little of what we do and what we're about. It's what came about that day. The morning of Sept. 11th, we gasped in horror and then we joined hands to help, to heal, and to head into a future with a strengthened resolve. Remember that feeling. It is what helped us overcome that day; it is what re-emerged after Hurricane Katrina, and it can be our rallying cry as we demand more from ourselves, our friends, and yes, our opposition. Americans can overcome anything. Standing at the edge of the reflecting pools at Ground Zero, a sensation pulsed through me. Through the tears of empathy, I felt all those who died for our freedom, for our rights to express ourselves and stand up for what we believe in. And what I believe in is unity. Glancing at faces around me when I was at Ground Zero, few looked like me yet all shared the same expression. Every walk of life, culture, and race wore the somber expression of our loss but also of our resolve. United we still stand. We did not let terrorism break us down. Surely we will stand just as strong as the divisiveness within our country attempts to do the same. Because no matter what you believe, I hope you believe in America first.