LESLIE CRISS: Remembering 9/11 and seeking civility that followed

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”
– Kenyan proverb

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
– Henry Ford

“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified.”
– Rudolph W. Giuliani
Tuesday will mark the 11th anniversary of the horrendous tragedy most folks refer to numerically as 9/11. Like other of life’s tragedies, the terrorist attack that robbed countless people of their loved ones is an event that’s painful to remember. But it is also one we will never be able to forget. Nor should we.
I had a good friend who was visiting his fiancé in New York City in the days before those planes were flown into the humanity-heavy towers. In fact, he was to fly out of the city the morning of the attacks. Of course, his plane – and many others – were grounded for a time.
Instead, he and Sarah went toward the tumult and tried in the days that followed to do what they could to lend a hand wherever it was needed.
My friend called me early that morning to say simply, “I wanted you to know I’m OK.”
I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. I always had the television on as I got ready for work, but not this morning.
“Turn on the TV,” he told me. And I did – just in time to see the second plane fly into the second tower.
The horrors of the day were played out time after time on TV, in the hours, days, weeks following the attacks.
Even though I wanted to get away from it all, I found myself mesmerized by the pictures being shown and the stories being told about the humans who happened into heroism on that fateful day.
More than the devastation and death, I prefer to dwell on the miraculous coming together of the citizens of our country even before the dust began to clear at Ground Zero.
Then-President George W. Bush visited the site and if you’re like me, you didn’t give one whit which political party he preferred. It mattered not.
It suddenly seemed that we were all, every single one of us, in this thing – this terrible, awful thing – together.
If only that had lasted – people pulling together, rather than ripping each other apart. But it didn’t.
And here we are. Eleven years later – with enough hatred and distrust in our own nation among ourselves over politics, preaching, prayer, parenting and other life stuff to self-combust, without the fuel and ferocity of foreign terrorists.
Don’t know about you, but that frightens me.
So, even though it hurts, let’s make sure we remember on Tuesday and the days to follow the atrocities of 9/11.
Let’s also recall the nationwide sense of community and compassion and camaraderie we found amid all the rubble as the dust began to clear.
Maybe that’s something we could work toward finding again.
leslie.criss@journalinc.com