In many ways it seems like a lifetime ago, the day our nation was attacked by terrorists on that September 11 now 17 years ago.
Perhaps we felt insulated. Maybe we were a bit naive. We certainly were caught off guard on that fateful day that the twin towers fell, and that a portion of our own defense department’s nerve center was destroyed.
A lot of lives were lost that day. We still mourn those who passed and pray for their families.
We also lost a few other things that day, and the book is still being written on some of those losses.
Many lost a sense of invincibility, or perhaps a sense of security, in the attacks that brought down those buildings and the thwarted attack that ended in a Pennsylvania farm field.
Perhaps the bigger loss is the one that seems to have taken place in the aftermath of month and years since our collective response to those attacks.
As much as we recall the dread, the fear and the anger that took place, we can also think back to the tone of our nation’s pulling together. As it happens so many times in the face of tragedy, we figure out that we are Americans first and partisanship takes a nickel seat in the parking lot.
No one can forget where they were when they heard the news of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. But, if you have any American blood coursing through your veins, I’ll bet there’s one other aspect of the days that follow that you will never forget.
It’s a common phenomenon after all tragedies.
Those who lived through the infamous Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor attacks probably felt it too. Somewhere in the ashes, the phoenix of our heritage—our very vision of freedoms and opportunity—seems to rise up.
Out of a season of discord, we seem able to rally as ONE nation, as ONE people. We overcome the challenges of our differences to realize we have a singular purpose—to remain a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all the world to see.
If we can find these common threads and goals in the wake of destruction and despair, perhaps our nation could find a method of putting its petty differences aside and work for the common good on those days where we are being attacked.
It might just start with a little bit of humility and awareness that no one owns all the right answers. It might start with a sense that winning an argument or taking a position doesn’t always depend on someone else losing their point of view or opinion.
It might start by realizing that we are all engaged in this republic together—for the good of all, not just for the good of a few.
Perhaps if we stopped viewing our differences of opinion as enigmatic, and started searching for common ground, we might recapture some of that sense of common good that evaporated since the aftermath of the 911 disaster.
If it takes finding a common enemy to bring us together, then make discord and demonizing the common enemies that unite us. Unity does not require unanimity. We can disagree. It’s healthy to do so. But in the end, the answers lie in finding the middle ground. It’s often a place where neither side wins by shutout, but each side can find small, yet fulfilling victories in the achieving the greater good. We the People are better when we pull together, when we work together, when we pursue the American dream—together.

—Mike Mathes, Publisher