Remembering 9/11 and the Unity It Inspired

9/11 USA Patriot Day. Never Forget September 11, 2001. Conceptual illustration for Patriot Day US poster or banner. Twin Towers stylized with American flag on black background. Vector illustration

As Americans we were reminded this past weekend that 20 years ago we were under attack by terrorists which caused the loss of thousands of American lives. I remember that I was supposed to attend a breakfast with the Governor of Delaware who could not be present because of the national threat. Instead, those who attended this breakfast had an impromptu group therapy session where many individuals poured their hearts out about their families, their fears and their call for mutual support. It was an experience that was inspiring and unifying for everyone in the room.

In looking back and in hearing more about the stories surrounding the events of 9/11 it was truly an experience of trauma for most Americans. I watched the filmed expressions of New Yorkers who watched the penetration and eventual collapse of the twin towers which were filled with tears, terror and horror. So many of them knew someone who was or could have been working in those destroyed buildings and were intensely fearful for the lives of their friends and loved ones.

I watched the heroic fireman who were walking towards the towers when most were running away, purposed to find those who needed help. I saw the rush to help even after the buildings fell to find those in the rubble who may have survived that catastrophic event. I also watched people come together to help each other by providing food, housing, emotional support and other practical means to help each other cope.

This series of traumatic events and all the consequences impacted our whole country and in the process we lost almost 3,000 lives. Yet the outcomes were heroism, patriotism, courage, bravery, support and most of all a spirit of joining where empathy abounded in a unified country. It is still a part of our American heritage as reminded by all the events of this past weekend where Americans came together to remember.

I think it serves as an example to us all. We have our own traumatic pandemic with consequences to our lives, our families, our communities and our country that is far-reaching and catastrophic. We have lost over 600,000 lives and had millions of infections. We have not yet won the battle of this public health crisis and we are facing it together. It has a sense of being a dark cloud that continues to hover over our whole country.  But still, we have yet to come together in a similar way as our 9/11 experiences and outcomes.

911 Patriot Day USA, September 11 20th Anniversary - 9/11 Memorial banner horizontal white background vector

I do long for a country that is unified. Although I appreciate our differences and complexities there is still a significant opportunity for us to join around the common fight of this pandemic.  We need to grieve with those who have lost loved ones, work diligently to support those who have long-haul symptoms, do everything we can to protect each other and strive in the midst of a polarized political environment to unify our country, our democracy and our communities around the issues that are essential. A public health crisis is just that and we can overcome COVID if we are of one mind about the common issues that mutually affect us.

It is my hope that we can as a nation learn from those brave heroes of 9/11 as we rush to the aid of one another and be willing to step in the gap to help each other cope and survive this horrid pandemic. It is an opportunity to overcome a national health crisis that is not political but more about our health and well-being. It is key to how we survive and remain a strong and undivided nation. I honor all the sacrifices and heroism of those who were a part of 911. We all can rally behind them by rallying to our own support of each other.

Gerry Vassar


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