Today is the anniversary of that incredulous day ten years ago when we watched our televisions in horror, as the twin towers of The World Trade Center collapsed into a smoking pile of twisted metal and broken glass. We wept openly at the sight of it, and at the thought of all of the men, women, and children who lost their lives on that beautiful, sunny day.
Several years before 9/11, I visited The World Trade Center with a friend. We stood in line for the elevator to the observation deck, listening to the various foreign languages being spoken all around us, and trying to figure out what everyone was saying. We didn't know what they were talking about, but we did know why they were there. They came from all over the world to see an amazing wonder of the world...an architectural masterpiece...and a fantastic, unparalleled view of New York City and The Statue of Liberty through the "Windows On The World."
We noticed an area of the lobby that was closed off to the public. They were repairing damage from a car bombing the year before that had killed five people. The thought of that made me a little nervous, but my friend said calmly, "I'm sure security is tighter than ever now...nothing like that will ever happen again."
As I helplessly watched the World Trade Center fall on 9/11/2001, a chill ran down my spine as I remembered his remark. Terrorists had violated my homeland, and somehow, I would never feel safe and secure again.
We Americans mourned our losses that day, however in the process of sharing our sorrow, something else happened. We pulled together in a way that I had never witnessed before. We were no longer rich or poor, "red and yellow, black and white," or Democrats and Republicans. We were "One Nation Under God." We were Americans. It was bittersweet, but beautiful.
But today, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it seems we've forgotten many of the lessons we learned that day. Our country is more divided than ever. Our economy is a disaster, crime is rampant, and partisan politics have brought Washington DC to a grinding halt. We're disillusioned with our government officials, disapppointed in each other, frightened over the hostility the rest of the world feels toward us, and insecure about our future.
This morning, as I watched the World Trade Center collapse over and over again, I remembered the despair I felt ten years ago today, and the pride I felt for my country in the days following, as I observed Americans coming together in the spirit of love, compassion and respect. Then I watched the news, and my heart sank. I didn't see love, compassion and respect. I saw Americans fighting, hating, cheating, and killing each other. I saw division, and disrespect. And I wondered...when will we ever learn?