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Saturday, September 10, 2011

God Bless America

September 11 will never be just another day.  Even those of us who were not touched directly by the tragedy can remember where we were and what we felt as the events of that morning unfolded.  It was as if the basic security we felt as Americans was suddenly taken away.  Things like this didn't happen in America, they happened somewhere else.  Even today, as images of those planes hitting the towers are replayed, I can feel the same shock and disbelief that I felt ten years ago.  It never becomes ordinary.  If anything, now that we have heard the voices of those who were there when it happened, those that escaped and those that didn't, the images have an extra dimension of sadness.

One of the things that helped ease the sense of sadness, uncertainty and confusion was the collective coming together of Americans.  It took many forms - flags displayed, churches filled, patriotic songs sung.  Some look back on this as a time of unfortunate nationalism.  I, on the other hand, see it as a time when we remembered what it truly means to be a citizen of the United States.  It has nothing to do with your politics, with your country of origin, your race or your religion.  It is not based on your economic status, your age, or any other orientation or designation.  It's simply a belief, however simple or flawed, that we have tried to create the best nation that we can, and that we've done it together.  That it takes all of us to care, to work and to believe.  That we can overcome anything if we band together, however different our beliefs and backgrounds may be.  And, that we can achieve anything by the same means and methods.

September 11 is one of our nation's defining moments.  We're in the midst of another one, right now.  It's about how we can all work together to bring opportunity back to millions of Americans who have lost jobs, homes and, in many cases, hope itself.  It is my prayer that while we pause to remember the events of ten years ago, we can recapture some of the spirit of unity and purpose that we felt at that moment and put it to use in building a future that all those were lost could be proud of.  I think we will.  For all of my varied interests and affections in and for different places and people in the world, I feel blessed to have been born an American.

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