Ten Years After: Reflecting On September 11, 2001

This year, like every year that has passed since, our nation reflects back on the horrific attacks that cost the lives of 2,977 men, women, and children in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, and on the brave men and women who have laid their lives down since then in defense of the freedoms and security we so often take for granted.

These coordinated attacks on our nation had such a profound impact on our society and our world view that we now look at our recent history in two different phases, pre-9/11 and post-9/11. They made us more aware of the threats that we face as a nation, and they woke us up to the cold reality that the things we hold most dear as Americans are the very things that make us a target for terrorism.

However, these attacks and our collective response had a much deeper, more profound impact than that - they brought us together in a way that nothing else has since the Second World War, and they underscored the same spirit that has characterized our nation and its citizens since America's founding. It is this spirit that truly sets America apart and makes us unique. It is a sense of perseverance and determination, a loyalty to our fellow Americans, and the willingness to risk it all for what we believe in. This spirit was forged in the fires of revolution, grew strong in the face of adversity, and has defined the character of our nation since its inception.

These attacks were not just directed at buildings and people. They were meant to hit us at our core, to attack our very way of life and everything we stand for. They sought to instill fear and doubt in us, but they failed. They sought to intimidate us and disrupt our communities, but they failed. What they did was bind us together in a unified front to stand up to these injustices and push forward with the same spirit and character that the terrorists sought to destroy. We stood together, and in one collective voice said, "We will not be intimidated, and we will not be held down. We are Americans, and we stand together."

Ten years have passed since that fateful September morning, and not an American alive at the time will ever forget the horrors of that day. Those whom we lost will remain in our hearts forever, and images of the aftermath are permanently engrained in our memories. We came together to cope with a national tragedy and were reminded not of those things that divide us, but of those things that unify us. In the wake of tragedy, we found hope.

Though a decade has passed since then, I urge all Americans to look back to the days and weeks that followed 9/11 and remember that sense of unity and patriotism that was so prevalent. Though it is our diversity and differences that, in part, make us such a great and unique nation, it is our common bonds that make us Americans. Let us put our differences aside and once again focus on those things that bind us, for we are all Americans, and we will forever be one nation under God.