Never before has Congress been so divided, or the approval level of politicians been so low. A week ago, the two most powerful men in the American government bickered about which night of the week that President would address Congress. And during that speech, it was clear that the room was full of political enemies intent to not cede political ground to their opponent – regardless of the issue.
9/11 was a sucker punch. Contrary to Bill Maher’s comments after the events, the attackers were cowards. Like a 100 pound weakling sneaking up and punching a napping Chuck Norris in the jaw and scurrying away into the dark.
But 9/11 is just the start of the story. As every American remembers, something incredible happened on 9/12 that the terrorists probably weren’t expecting.
And also 9/13. And 9/14.
American Flags were pulled from the backs of garages, sold out in department stores, and proudly displayed outside practically every home in the neighborhood. Blood banks had lines of people who simply wanted to donate. Policemen and firemen were cheered nationally.
Before games, the national anthem was no longer a formality. It was an opportunity for every person in the room to reflect that they were really on the same team, regardless of the color of jersey. And not all that different from each other.
When the President of the United States came to Yankee Stadium in October to throw out the first pitch, there wasn’t a single boo. Not a person who thought about differing views on economic policy. Our leader was standing on the mound, and every single person in the stadium stood and cheered. A thunderous chant of U-S-A broke out.
Tom Daschle spoke to the nation on the steps of the Capitol with fellow leaders and said, “We, Republicans and Democrats, member of the House and Senate, stand strongly united behind the president and will work together to ensure that the full resources of the government are brought to bear in these efforts.”
At baseball games, a new song was introduced during the 7th inning stretch. In addition to the traditional campy song about peanuts and cracker jax, tens of thousands of people stood up, removed their hats and sang God Bless America. And meant it.
Neighbors checked on each other. Churches were filled. Friends who might have gotten preoccupied with their lives now met in each other’s houses to simply – talk.
We cried together and stood together with resolve. Politics seemed insignificant. Irrelevant. Petty. In a moment, reality came into focus, as did our reliance on each other.
The lesson of 9/11 is how small and vulnerable we are individually. The lesson of 9/12 is how strong we are together.
9/11 is a day we shouldn’t forget. Nor would we. But more importantly, I hope we never forget 9/12.