Tuesday, September 12, 2023

September 12, 2001: The day America changed


Unless you were too young at the time, everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the attack on the twin towers. But do you recall your first thoughts after hearing the news? Do you recall what you were doing in the days and months leading up to the attack?

22 years have passed since that morning I walked into the back loading dock door of the Riverside County Administrative Center, where I received the call just before entering.


“(Crying) They hit the World Trade Center, it’s burning.”

“Who? Who bombed the World Trade Center?”

“oh no! Another one hit the other building!”

“What?! Who did what?”

“Not a bomb, they flew planes into the buildings.”

“Who are they?”

” I don’t know!”

“Let me find out what is going on, and I will call you back . . .”

Before this day, life seemed simple. I was a young husband and father of two boys, enjoying life and planning for the future. The only stress I recall having at the time were normal family issues. Do you buy that car? Do you replace the family room furniture this year or wait until after the family trip and the water heater is replaced? Of course, there was the occasional tight month where we had to hunker down a bit, but we had each other, a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and plenty of friends and family to spend holidays and free time with. Life at home and work were good.

The national news at the time was not always good; the shoe bomber, anthrax attacks, shark attacks, and the occasional road rage incidents are a few things I recall topping the news. Although society did not agree on every issue, on the major events, we mourned and rejoiced together as one united family as a nation.

Nothing in my lifetime up until 9/11 or after has brought us together so united as a nation. The shared loss and suffering we endured on September 11, 2001, was bittersweet. We hurt, were angered, and sought justice as one nation, one people.

On September 12th, there was not a rich or poor person, a Republican or Democrat, a black or white person, or any other silly thing that we have let divide us after this time. For a moment, we had it right; we all realized we were on the same team; we were all Americans.

Since this day, I have watched our society become divided and polarized. We have endured what seems to be one crisis after another. Corporate scandals, Ponzi schemes, wars, the housing bubble, a global recession, the collapse of Wall Street, and COVID, to name a few. When I thought things could not get much worse, I was proven wrong. Apparently, if you feel strong enough about your opinions, you can burn down cities, loot, vandalize, and tear down statues and call it justice. And if that was not enough, you can also shame, ostracize, heckle, marginalize, ban, and criminally target anyone who does not agree with you as the new normal.

In 2001, we had a national debt of $6 trillion. Today, as I am writing this, our national debt is moving past $32 trillion. If we were evaluating our nation as a company, we would be wondering, who the heck is running things? We would likely fire those in charge or be forced to shut our doors due to being broke. We are in serious debt, we seem to have lost our moral compass and our ability to engage each other civilly. Moreover, as we fight amongst ourselves, our enemies are becoming more emboldened, and there is nothing more they would like than to see us fail.

If our leaders were as awesome as they claim they are, we could expect things to be much less bad than they are now. Poor leadership, incompetence, bad policies, greed, and the lust for power from some of the ruling class have not only not addressed the core issues of our nation; their actions and rhetoric have caused those they are supposed to serve to be divided at an unhealthy level and at times even violent. Shame on any member of any party that fails to unite and serve the people that have elected them.

There is no cavalry coming to save our nation. We the people, are the answer. We are the “consent of the governed”, as referenced in the Declaration of Independence. We will never fix our core issues or do great things if we continue on the divided course we are on.

To all those who lost a family member, friend, or loved one on September 11, 2001, we will never forget your loss and pain. To the first responders that ran into the chaos and destruction to help their fellow citizens, we can never repay you for your bravery and sacrifice. God bless you.

As we reflect back on another anniversary of September 11, 2001 remembered, I wonder: will it take another tragic event for us to realize we are all on the same team?

To my fellow citizens, please remember who we were on September 12, 2001, how we were united, and what we stood for. There are plenty of people around the world who do not like us and want to cause us harm. We are better and stronger united than divided. No matter what the media and political leaders tell you, we all wear the same color jersey: red, white, and blue.

I do not give my consent for the nonsense I have seen occur in our nation since 2001; we are better than this. As a citizen, I would argue we do not need more laws to govern us; our issues are not our laws; our issues are a problem of the heart. The best advice I could ever give anyone in any situation is to pray. If we truly want to heal our nation, I would recommend we start there.