Back in 2001 I had a column on PoliticsNJ.com called Scoundrel’s Refuge. This was published on September 18, 2001, my reaction one week after the 9/11 attacks. It’s kind of sad to see that things did not go how I would have wished.
The terrorists who attacked America in New York and Washington D.C. exacted a heavy price on our country. We lost not only some buildings and many, many innocent lives, but also a piece of our national soul. The sight of those buildings collapsing extracted a piece of our core, and we are still searching for what will fill it.
In that search we are finding each other, and our patriotism. We are meeting on street corners with candles, trying desperately to give blood or donate blankets or get permission to dig through the rubble. Flags are flying on homes, cars, street lamps and more. Prayer services are packed, and even Borough Council meetings have a few more people than usual.
This unity is heartening, but it also comes with a hefty obligation to ensure that we are unified in the right direction, that we fill that void with something positive. Many countries have been unified in the past, with disastrous results. I do not believe for a second that we could sink to the depths of a WWII Germany or a 1979 Iran, but the United States has itself been guilty in the past of the improbably terrible act sanctioned by its people.
We must not change for the worse as a people
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor – the last time we were attacked from the outside and the last time we were so unified – we collected our Japanese-Americans and put them in pens. It did not matter if they were third or fourth generation or despised the Emperor. They were imprisoned anyway, and their property and businesses were stolen.