Commentary

Americans Must Come Together as We Did After 9/11

By MARK TUCCI | Aug 30, 2017

I remember yesteryear as if it were yesterday. I remember the good times along with the bad. I remember standing in Shea Stadium with more than 50,000 screaming teens while the Beatles tried to sing over their screams, “Help! I need somebody!” I also remember the devastating assassinations of JFK and RFK and how our nation mourned together as one. In the words of Dickens, it was the best of times and the worst of times.

Fast forward to more recent times. Other than differences in specific circumstances, our overall lot is pretty much the same. We enjoy the very best of times, in terms of the benefits derived from quantum advances in technology, medicine and other fields, while we also struggle through the very worst of times, given the global turmoil and bloodshed. Take heart, though. America will continue to endure and prevail through these complex and dangerous challenges because of the strength and dauntless spirit of the American people and the fundamental values that have successfully bonded us together for more than 200 years.

We all remember how our national resilience grew even stronger following the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on our homeland – an attack that killed nearly 3,000 people, mostly American citizens, and wounded another 6,000. In the spirit of FDR, that is a date that will forever live in infamy. I remember that horrific day as if it were yesterday, and I remember the images of innocent citizens being killed and wounded just because they were Americans. Next month we will have the opportunity as a nation to remember and mourn all those helpless souls who were murdered and the many others who were injured on that fateful date.

At the time of the attack, I was working at the state Department of Environmental Protection, and in the weeks that followed, I remember this very moving poem, written by Cheryl Sawyer, a professor at University of Houston-Clear Lake, that was included in one of our employee newsletters:

As the soot and dirt and ash rained down, we became one color.

As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning building, we became one class.

As we lit candles of waiting and hope, we became one generation.

As the firefighters and police officers fought their way into the inferno, we became one gender.

As we fell to our knees in prayer for strength, we became one faith.

As we whispered or shouted words of encouragement, we spoke one language.

As we gave our blood in lines a mile long, we became one body.

As we mourned together the great loss, we became one family.

As we cried tears of grief and love, we became one soul.

As we retell with pride of the sacrifice of heroes, we became one people.

We are:

One color.

One class.

One generation.

One faith.

One language.

One body.

One family.

One soul.

One people.

We are the power of one. We are united. We are America.

I remember that extraordinarily strong spirit of unity and national pride, and I truly miss it today. I even remember, following the attack, how all our elected officials stood together as one in Washington, regardless of individual political affiliations. As a nation, we are desperately in need of that same strong sense of national unity and pride. I don’t remember any time in my 67 years when our country was so divided along so many different lines and with such deeply rooted animosity.

Today we have been divided by race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, gender, political affiliations and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Those types of divisions have led to a growing sensitivity that seems to result in too many people being offended by too many micro issues. For the sake of my grandchildren and future generations, however, I remain confident and optimistic that our nation will rally once again and emerge to continue serving as the greatest nation in the history of our planet.

As we prepare to remember the souls lost on 9/11, we must renew our faith and hope that our nation can also remember and rekindle our strong sense of national pride, unity and resilience. In line with that, we must renew the national respect for the men and women who serve our nation in the military and law enforcement. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation for putting their lives on the line every day. They serve all of us, not just some.

When we act together as one, we can overcome all the lines that have emerged to divide us and all the global challenges and threats that continue to confront us. I remember when this was the traditional American way, and I am hopeful that we will become one America once again.

Mark Tucci lives in Manahawkin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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