For those too young today is something they best know from what they have been told, seen or read.  In a way they are somewhat fortunate not to have witnessed the horror that unfolded on that pristine and perfect September day that is so significant in our history that a mere mention of 9/11 brings back memories as vivid for some as if it was yesterday and not 18 years ago. It is this generations “day that will live in infamy” and most of us remember exactly where we were when we first heard the news.

So today I go back in the Hometown View archives and find something I did in 2004 on the third anniversary.  I saved it because it received an award from the New Jersey Broadcasters Association but I’m sharing it again today because much of the content is relevant, at least I think it is.  So let me take you back in time:

The third anniversary of 9/11 was marked with tributes and memorials all across the country.  Almost all were to remind us of the thousands of innocent victims who lost their lives and as a nation we have pledged to “never forget.”

However I believe for the most part we have already forgotten the great lesson we learned immediately following the tragedy of that September day just three years ago.

Ladder Company 10 and Engine 10 remember (Bud McCormick)9/11
FDNY Ladder Company 10 and Engine 10 remember 9/11

If there was anything positive that came out of 9/11 it was our willingness to not only unite but understand that the little obstacles we often face in life are just that…little.  In other words we began putting things in proper perspective and for a period of time did not take things like family, friends and good health for granted.

We also showed tolerance and patience for one another and I remember commenting about how nice it was to see people going out of their way for strangers.  Again it was the little things that stood out: saying PLEASE and THANK YOU, holding the door open for someone, letting another car get in front of you.

Well three years later I believe that spirit has disappeared and we are now back to the way things used to be.  It’s that “me me” philosophy all over again and the warmth and fuzziness of post 9/11 America has been replaced by looking out for #1.

Why is it that we need a tragedy to remind ourselves that while we are all different we are also all the same?  Why can’t the good feelings we had for one another regardless of race, religion or social status continue?  In some cases we are more divided now than before terrorists changed the way we live.

Maybe the answer is simple.  Maybe it’s just Americans are at their best when the chips are down. It’s at that time we come together and for a period realize that the one thing we agree on is the red, white and blue may not be perfect but it’s better than anywhere else.  We are the land of the free and home of the brave. I just wish it didn’t always take negatives to find our positives.

That’s what I wrote and said 15 years ago and in some ways not much has changed.

American flag flies over Toms River's 9/11 ceremony
American flag flies over Toms River's 9/11 ceremony (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

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