A Moment to Reflect on September 11, 2001

Everyone remembers where they were on the unseasonably warm Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001, which turned into one of our nation’s darkest days. Our country, and the world, watched in disbelief as the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history unfolded on live television.

People were disoriented and in shock, and one thing became painfully clear: America would never be the same. But when three brave New York City firefighters took it upon themselves to raise the American flag above the rubble and ash of “Ground Zero,” it spurred a strong sense of patriotism. Soon after, stories of heroism, bravery, and selflessness spread from the smoldering ruins in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to the rest of the country.

As we honor the 2,977 Americans we lost on that fateful day, let’s remember the kindness and unity that developed in the days, weeks, and months after September 11, 2001.

President George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress just nine days after the attacks, saying, “All of America was touched on the evening of the tragedy to see Republicans and Democrats joined together on the steps of this Capitol, singing “God Bless America.” The nation set its political differences aside as the entire chamber gave the president a standing ovation.

Patriotism surged across the country. Demand for the flag increased so quickly that stores struggled to keep it in stock. It was a surreal time as 79 percent of adults proudly flew Old Glory and countless Americans took to the streets in support of liberty and freedom.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been 21 years. That horrific tragedy forced us to recognize the humanity in each other and showed us that our bonds run deeper than our differences. During that time, a sense of civility and respect swept through our society; suddenly, people were holding doors for strangers and looking for ways to help one another. Instead of posting a remembrance on social media this year, take some time to reflect on how we came together and how we can continue to do so.

Related: Read The Survivors, a story of three men who made it out of 9/11 alive—but whose ordeal was far from over.

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