Friday, September 11, 2015

What Did We Learn from 9/11?

Every year we think back to that horrific day in our history where everything changed. People post memories online. We are transported for a moment back to what started out as a beautiful September morning. Then we think about how it all unfolded, where we were, taking stock of friends we knew that worked in lower Manhattan or in the Pentagon area. Trying to reach out to people and phone lines being jammed.

Everyone has stories from their own perspective from that tragic day, but the common story was how people helped and supported each other. After standing in Hoboken and staring at the New York skyline, I got back on my train to head home. As I waited for my train to leave the station that morning, I watched people getting on who had just arrived from lower Manhattan. There was such kindness on that train before we even knew the enormity of it all. If we try and find a positive about 9/11, it’s how the country came together. 

We truly were once again the UNITED states of America.

Yet 14 years later, as we witness men and women all wanting to lead our country as the next president, we are more unraveled as a country than we have been in years. Gone are those feelings about 9/11/01 that we are all in this together. Now it’s us/them - right/left - and the divide becomes wider and wider. There isn’t a leader that seems to want to unite. That’s the saddest part of watching the elections unfold. It’s all about pandering, scripted responses, and how much air time can they get in the sea of candidates.

And then last night, Stephen Colbert (only in his third episode of the new Late Show) brings Vice President Joe Biden on and they travel to a place never explored in late night TV. In a world full of comedy, these two men had the most honest and amazing discussion. Biden allowed his humanity and humility to shine through - all the while saying that’s not something he should do. Almost apologizing for being human…as if politicians and those running for office should not show that part of their personalities. Through his personal grief (something Colbert can completely relate to), he displayed what we are missing in the current elections: humanity.

I’m not saying Biden should be forced to run. I’m saying it was nice to be reminded we are all the same. We hurt. We grieve. We bleed red. No matter what political affiliation we are a part of - we are Americans. It would be great to remember how we knew that after 9/11 and have potential leaders show how they could get us there again without having to go through another tragedy. We always say we will never forget, but it sure seems we forget what it felt like to be united. 

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