This Friday, September 11, perhaps the darkest and saddest day in our collective consciousness and on our calendars is Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.
What we each most remember of that day is usually linked to where we were and what we were doing when at 8:46 AM, American Airlines Flight 11 smashed into the north face of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at over 450 miles an hour, becoming the sonata in a symphony of hate and horror that was to be redeemed by heroism and humanity as that day dragged on and for every day, up to, and including, today. But, stealing a line from a Warren Zevon song, 'the hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder.'
As a Presidential Proclamation issued a few years ago marking September 11th, noted, "(w)e will never undo the pain and injustice borne that terrible morning, nor will we ever forget those we lost."
I don't think any of us have or will ever forget but learning to live as individuals and citizens of what we so casually call the Greatest Country on Earth, requires we show compassion towards one another and empathy for ideas and ideals like and sometimes very much unlike our own, and to display the courage of our convictions in order to live as bravely as those who died in New York City, the Pentagon and aboard Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
We have gone down so many different and diverging paths in the last fourteen years and our headlines and news stories reflect, perhaps uncomfortably and far too accurately, the "Pluribus" in our "E Pluribus Unum."
We may be speaking more often and more loudly than we have at any time since the divisiveness preceding the Civil War, but I fear we're also not listening less than at any time in our history, in at least my lifetime.
A cautionary and prophetic historical footnote, from September 10, 2001, about a Gallup Poll released on that day, indicating 55% of us were 'dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States.'
I don't pretend to know what recent surveys on that subject might reveal, but based on the mutterings and murmurings we each encounter every day, the dissatisfaction levels aren't all that different than they were the day before 9/11.
I'd imagine the summer of our discontent will linger through the autumn and into the winter, as we struggle to make decisions on defining a national direction and choosing a President to help lead us there.
And the discussions that will shape those decisions are at the essence of who we are as the nation so often regarded as a shining light for all others and as a people whose belief in ourselves and in our fundamental goodness and righteousness has driven us from one coast to the other, to the darkest depths of the world's oceans and to farthest reaches and starless nights of space.
We must promise one another that the memories of those whose lives ended on 9/11 will fuel our efforts to lead our country, and the world, to greater freedoms that more truly and always honor their sacrifice.