There's not much regarding 9-11 that I can say that hasn't already been discussed in detail. I am going to try and take a different approach as I reflect on the day.
15 years ago I was already out of the Army due to a back and should injury. On the morning of 9-11, I was on duty at a Florida Department of Juvenile Justice facility. I don't recall my position at the time. I started in the lowest position (graveyard security) and worked to assistant and then acting-superintendent. After recognizing the historic nature of the event, I do recall instructing all our youthful offenders be crammed into a small, staff-room that had our only television. We watched the 2nd plane hit. Our staff was as diverse in political philosophy as they were in color and religion. However, staff and offenders on that day were in unity in all the ways that mattered. In the aftermath of 9-11, our country was also unified. On 9/21-9/22, President Bush hit an approval rating of 90%, the highest rating ever obtained by a president. He was respected for his firm yet compassionate leadership. We wanted payback and we had confidence that he would deliver. The president delivered what we asked, however overtime, we the people changed our minds about what we wanted. The subject of this posting is not about Bush. It's about our failure to remain unified.
A few years later my area of north-west Florida experienced 2 local catastrophic events. Major Hurricanes hit the area less than a year apart. The devastation that occurred cannot be adequately described. They brought something great though, just like on 9-11. The morning after Hurricane Ivan hit, I left my home at the tail end of the storm to check on my parents. During the 10 mile drive, I had to drive over lawns, through ditches, and in some cases areas where on any other day I might have been arrested for driving. Debris consisting of downed trees and power wires were everywhere. Roofs blown from houses littered the roads. What I saw during the Tropical Storm force winds that still persisted was encouraging. Police Officers, Firefighters, and civilians working together to cut trees and pull debris from the roads to permit the entry of other emergency personnel and power companies that had come from as far away as Connecticut and Alaska. During the next 3 weeks, until we regained power, we spent each day working with neighbors we previously didn't know existed to obtain food, water, and fuel for the few generators in the area. It was a time of unity and it was that unity that brought us through.
9-11 is day to reflect not just on the terrible events, but what delivers us through such times. Most soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines understand this. It's recognizing the larger picture, it's putting personal needs aside for the greater good, it's taking care of the person to your right and left- it's Flight 93. It's unity, aka esprit de corps, that makes each successful in his or her endeavors as they perform mission critical tasks.
In a time where our country may be less unified than anytime other than during the war between the states, I hope today serves as a time to reflect on upon what it will take to put America back on the right track. The coming together and making sacrifices for the greater good of the country. Permitting the continued corruption from our political leaders, greed in some parts of corporate America, and our own individual selfish natures are the only things that can destroy our country. That is precisely why such behaviors such as disrespecting our flag, albeit a protected constitutional act, should not be celebrated. The American Flag should be the one rallying force we have to see the positives of the philosophy from which our country came together for its foundation. The American Flag is not about the behaviors of man, whether bad or good, but the ideology as stated in the Declaration of Independence that "All men are created equal...with the right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" and as so eloquently stated by James Adams who in 1931 wrote, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement."
We the People need to learn to be unified and wave our flag proudly during all times, not just in times of crisis.
Jim Hartnett, StarSpangled1776.com