Posted by: Taylor | September 13, 2006

A House Divided: Remembering 9/11

The South TowerMonday, September 11th, 2006, the five year anniversary of 9/11, a day to be remembered with somberness, a day to never forget, a day which changed America forever.  Like other Americans, I remember where I was and what I was doing the moment the towers came down.  I was home preparing for the day, my parents called with the news about the twin towers, I rushed to turn on the television, I called out to my wife Angela as I watched the towers pour forth smoke, and then in total disbelief I watched the South Tower fall.  In a blink, more than 3000 lives were ushered into eternity.  In a breath, families were jolted by the reality that moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, friends, and fiancées would not be home.  In an instant, America was at war, but united.

But oh, how things change.  How soon we forget; and, how selfish we can be.  This fifth anniversary of “The Day America Changed” was remembered in many thoughtful ways.  There were moments of silence, prayers, speeches, and tears.  There were articles written, comments made, and promises renewed.  But something was missing, unity.  Amongst all the memorials and honorings, unity was not the core.  Unity has been supplanted by strife and discord.  This is an example of the depths of our selfishness.  The disunity we are now experiencing is a stain on the memory of those who lost their lives five years ago.

If we truly desire to honor those who have lost their lives in the battle for our freedom, then the most excellent memorial would be our unity.  There can be no conservative or liberal, no democrat or republican, no disunity when it comes to remembering those who have died providing for our freedom.  

Unity is a mark of love, respect, and remembrance.  It is a mark of love because our love for country and cause are greater than love for ourselves or personal desires.  It is a mark of respect via social, political, and religious leaders serving altruistically for the dignity of our nation.  And finally, unity is a mark of remembrance if we never forget that when selfishness, disrespect, and self-absorption take charge of a society, government, or religion it will always lead to disaster and death.

The rhetorical discourse which is prevalent five years after 9/11 makes me believe we are already walking down the path of 9/11 again.  We are not a country united.  America is at war, but the enemy which is more deadly than any outside terrorist, is the terror within.  America is fighting a battle of ideas.  This battle is raging to capture hearts, minds, and power. 

9/11 birthed a new stage in American history.  And as with all new beginnings, there is a power struggle which will determine our course as a nation.  This is not an unexpected result.  As with any birth, there are birth pains.  What is unacceptable is how those fighting seem to have little or no concern about the casualties inflicted by such a struggle.  More than the human casualties are the overarching social, political, and religious casualties.  We as a nation are not just engaging in a meaningful exchange of ideas.  If this were the case, then we would have no need for concern.  Instead, the very fabric of this nation is being fought over like bickering children fighting over an inheritance left by loving parents. 

I am afraid in the end America will no longer be the America our forefathers established.  The patch-quilt fabric so purposefully knitted together is beginning to unravel.  Soon America might not be the “United States.”  We are already dividing into special interest, ethnic, and geographical groupings. 

Abraham Lincoln in his House-Divided speech in Springfield, Illinois, said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand…I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.  It will become all one thing or all the other.”  America again is a house divided, but do we have the same resolve as those who came before us?  I think not.     

We are in greater danger now than at any time in America’s history.  Civil war in actual might not be the result, but indifference and ineffectiveness might be.  The War on Terror for many is wrong on so many levels:  wrong ideologically, ethically, and geographically, but it is right on the most basic level, survival.  This struggle which we are engaged in is a fight for America’s survival.  Much like the struggle our grandparents engaged in against Germany and Japan, this battle will determine not whether we speak German or Japanese, but whether we live under Sharia Law or the Constitution.   

Many believe this is a war which we cannot win, and therefore, we should not engage in it.  But, “The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me”, Abraham Lincoln, December 26, 1839.  And neither should it deter us. 

I remember the day that the towers came down, I remember seeing the open wound of the Pentagon, I 9/11 Pentagonremember United flight 93 and the hallowed ground in Pennsylvania, and I will always remember those who have lived and died for the freedoms we enjoy.  Today, the greatest memorial and tribute to those who have gone ahead of us is for us to be united as Americans.  We need to once again set aside our social, political, and religious differences and be Americans.  Yes, we are a country which allows and even encourages ethnic, religious, and political distinctiveness, but at our core, we must be united as Americans.   

Great nations have never been formed out of their diversities, but instead, great nations have been founded on the bedrock of their similarities. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…  We as a diverse people must join again as a nationalistic whole and regain our identity as Americans, not Asian Americans, Latin Americans, African Americans, Conservative Americans, Liberal Americans, but as United Americans.  If we don’t, America will cease to exist as we now know it.   

America is in jeopardy of becoming like the European Union.  Each party, state, or subgroup could become much like a satellite nation, and our national identity will be all but lost.  As we remember 9/11, we are in the mist of a national debate over which ideology will win out.  Let us consider the words of one who found himself with a similar struggle to define the direction of a nation. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  

Abraham Lincoln,Gettysburg Address

November 19, 1863 

Let us too “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

WTC Memorial

 Copyright © 2006 by Taylor W. Kendrick

All rights reserved.  No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

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Responses

  1. I never thought of the United States as something special until a Canadian woman I talked to told me an interesting story. Her husband was here with Honda to train new employees and her family was here for 2 years during the training term. Her children were attending school and she was fore-warned about the inferior education her children would receive. She was absolutely impressed with the quality of education they were getting here in the states. But her most memorable experience was when she returned home to Canada for the holidays to visit with family. Her 5 year old stood up in front of her family, placed her hand on her heart and quoted the Pledge of Allegiance. You can imagine the reaction of the family, but the Canadian woman was so touched by this display of patriotism and how unique it was for us to have such a country.

    Canada doesn’t recognize a “flag over a united republic”. Those who burn our flag know it hurts the patriot heart, because we have something special. We take advantage of what we have. We forget to appreciate what we have until someone threatens it. We are like spoiled children.

    Each generation gets wealthier and more complacent. We don’t see the harm we are doing by ignoring the cracks in the armour. We don’t say the pledge anymore unless it is during a sporting event. Sports don’t make our country, the people do. When the people forget who they are, how they came to be, and the legacy of those that came before us that gives us the privilees we have today, we are no longer a country.

  2. […] If you have enjoyed this article, you might also like to read A House Divided:  Remembering 9/11. […]


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