Distance makes the memory go farther

Villanvan Editorial Board

As the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11 approaches, we can’t help but think that some of the lessons learned on that horrible day five years ago have been lost.

In the days immediately following the attacks, support and aid poured into New York City and the families of the individuals who lost their lives. Stars and stripes (and flag sales) soared as U.S. citizens showed just how proud they were to be American.

Out of the most horrendous attacks in our nation’s history came a nation united. This outpouring truly was inspiring.

Now five years later, our nation appears quite different. America is more divided than it ever was, patriotism is no longer popular and the feelings of unity we all felt after 9/11 are fading memories.

Why does it take a national tragedy for us to act like this? Why do 5,000 people have to die for us to be nicer to each other? For a few months after 9/11, people put aside their differences and worked together. No matter the political views, race, religion or any other demographic difference that existed, we were all united. Why can’t it be like this always?

We aren’t asking for blind patriotism. Citizens should be able to, if not encouraged to, criticize and speak out against their government. However, there doesn’t have to be such bitter discord. There are already enough factors working against us externally. We don’t need to be our own worst enemy.

Now the term “9/11” has evolved into a buzzword thrown around by politicians on either side to build themselves up or discredit their opponent. Self-proclaimed experts claim they know something that the rest of the nation doesn’t and look to translates those secrets and theories into dollar signs.

Meanwhile, families are without fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Soldiers are fighting and dying in wars in two countries, and our nation is arguably no safer now than it was before 9/11. And the majority seem not to care.

With each passing year, 9/11 becomes a more distant memory. We will always remember where we were when the unthinkable occurred, but our reactions proved only temporary.

What will it take to get that feeling back that we had after September 11, the feeling that despite our differences we are all Americans? The nation, and the world, is a better place united. It shouldn’t take a national tragedy for us to realize this.