In the late fall of 2000, and the winter and spring of 2001, the United States was more divided than it had probably been since the Civil War. The presidential election had just taken place and the ambiguous outcome, and subsequent Supreme Court ruling, left many feeling like their votes did not count. Sworn into office was a president who many believed was not elected by an American majority.
Suddenly, depending on which side you were on, red was bad and blue was good or red was good and blue was bad. The outcome of the election polarized the country.
Going into the fall of 2001 the fervor had diminished only slightly. Democrats were still not happy, but perhaps resigned, with the outcome of the election that gave George Bush the presidency, and the division was still palpable.
Then in New York City, on a near cloudless September 11th, at 8:46 in the morning that all changed. Two American owned airplanes, hijacked by Islamic militants, struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3000 innocent civilians, and after the country shook off the shock and dust, we were a nation united.
In every town and city across this vast land neighbors started talking to each other. There were candlelight vigils and marches of solidarity. In an instant all the dividers disappeared. It did not matter if you were a democrat or republican, red, blue, purple or green. Race, religion, sexual orientation, pro-life, anti-abortion, it did not matter. We were united in a belief and we stood together. We were Americans and for the first time in at least a generation, we were unified.
That is now all a distant memory. Six years later we all mourn the passing of those innocent and heroic, but as a people, and as a country, we are more divided then we were after the 2000 presidential election.
Promising to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks, King George started searching for Osama Bin Laden - the man he knew to be responsible. Soon after our military unseated the extremist Muslim Taliban government in Afghanistan and continued the search for Bin Laden – who continues to elude us.
Have we not located and brought to justice this man because his ragtag organization has more intelligence gathering capabilities than those of the United States government, or was our government simply not invested in the search because unbeknownst to the American public, King George, and his band of merry men, was preoccupied? He had other more important concerns – he was already plotting the invasion of oil wealthy Iraq - a country that had little real interest in harming the United States and definitely did not have the capability in any way to do so.
Today the government issues terror alerts to help us understand the threats to our very existence. These same terror alerts are manipulated to keep the public frightened and serve their political purposes. Airport lines snake through terminals as travelers are frisked for oversized shampoo bottles, and shoes removed and inspected for bombs.
There are more unanswered questions then there were six years ago, and the glowing halos of the stewarding politicos of the day have been dimmed. We no longer blindly see them as American heroes but as flawed manipulators of our history and history will no doubt be unkind to them, and with good reason.
America is a divided nation yet again. We are back to red state versus blue state, Christian versus Jew and Muslin. Black and white again fight. The straights hate the gays and God forbid you are an immigrant, either legal or illegal…Except for one day - September 11th.
Together we remember and mourn as Americans. We continually see the images in our heads and our hearts and prayers are with the families and friends of those that were lost. For one day we put aside our differences and together we recall the tragic events of that day and we extend our deepest sympathies and love.
And then unfortunately, it is back to business as usual...