I know that many people thought a lot today about the tragedy that befell our country 11 years ago. I know that I did. Just the thought of how horrible that day was makes my heart ache to remember. But my message today isn’t to recall what happened on that horrendous day, but rather I want to talk about what happened in the days that immediately followed September 11th.
In the days right before 9/11 there were people fighting about whether the pledge of allegiance should be allowed to be said in schools or not. Seeing an American Flag flying was almost a rare occurrence. People fought about whether God should be allowed to be mentioned. People fought about whether prayer should be allowed in schools. Democrats and Republicans were fighting over which party was right and which party was wrong. The political and religious divides in our country were significant.
And then 9/11 happened, and within hours everything changed. Immediately people came together in national prayer, asking God to protect and bless our country. Immediately the American Flag went up everywhere you looked, on every building, on every home, and on every car on the streets. People were no longer Democrats and Republicans divided, they were now all one – they were Americans. And this country was once again “One Nation, Under God.” Yes, God. The same God that just a day before had been considered to be politically incorrect to even discuss publically, was now front and center in every conversation and in every setting, and God was now a God that our country was willing to acknowledge and voice through prayers openly and publically. How different our country became from the day before to the day after. And it was a change that made me very proud to see. I was so proud to be an American in those days following 9/11. I was so proud to see our country pull together and remember that we were one, and we were united in a common goal of protecting our home that we love, and protecting our freedoms and security. I could not have felt more proud to be an American in those days that followed 9/11. That horrible tragedy united our country and it reminded us all of exactly what values this country was founded on. This was the United States of America and we were indeed, one country under God.
But then time passed, and people began to return to old habits of fighting over prayers and the pledge and the notion of being one nation under God. Flags were no longer flying everywhere you looked and once again the country became Republicans and Democrats fighting over who is right and who is wrong. And political and religious divides are once again significant.
How amazing would it be if our country could pull together without needing a national tragedy to do so? What better way to honor those men and women who died tragically at that hands of terrorists out to destroy our liberty? What better way to honor those men and women who died as hero’s trying to save others in 9/11? What better way to honor those men and women in all branches of our military who leave their families behind and go out and serve our country in an attempt to protect the freedom and values this country was founded on? What better way to honor our founding fathers that fought to have our country exist as the United States of America where they could worship God freely and without persecution?
It shouldn’t take tragedy and loss of lives for us to wake up as a country and remember who we are and what we stand for. It shouldn’t take 3,051 children losing a parent, nor 1,609 people losing their spouse, nor 2,753 people losing their own lives, as happened on September 11th eleven years ago today. We are the United States of America and there should not be a single day that we are not grateful and proud to be Americans. There should never be a moment that we are not proud to have the pledge of Allegiance in our schools. There should never be a moment that we forget that we are One Nation Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. God Bless America!