Many high schools took time this week to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Eleven years have passed and most people remember where they were the day that radical terrorism made its destructive appearance in our country.
We’ve mostly moved on from the painful days that followed the news of a planned attack on the World Trade Center, but the lessons we learned from what we now refer to as “9-11” can be found in what we recite together each day in our classrooms.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands.”
Our allegiance as a country stems from an idea that we could be aligned with a wide variety of states that would be represented by elected officials to oversee the limits of government and help manage the role of federal power in our lives.
It has never been perfect and will never be perfected, but what 9-11 taught us is that there remains a great spirit of liberty in our representative democracy.
Even after the attempt by terrorists to force us to live in fear, we took it upon ourselves to overcome the tendency to back away from our privilege to be an example to the rest of the world. Our collective choice was to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get to work being a republic again.
I remind my students every week that our constitutional framers guaranteed us both life and liberty, but happiness is ours to pursue; not a right, not a demand, not an entitlement, but something we each get to find in our own way as we live out our lives each day.
“One Nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
After 9-11, we had an extended period of unity and cooperation but it was inevitable that as we returned to normal, old habits would return as well. We found things to disagree over and even argue about but something was different.
We all seemed to begin to rediscover the importance of community and how we should support the efforts of those who work each day to help influence our children and make our communities a better place in which to live.
Our “One” nation began to resurrect the old-fashioned ideas of trying to show our care and concern for each other by offering to help and get involved in civic organizations that had been tattered by neglect.
We started to back away from making judgments about people who were involved in religious institutions and revive our tolerance for people whose genuine concern for our country and community was rooted in a spiritual experience.
What truly makes our country indivisible with liberty and justice for all is that we realize that we can be a place where people are welcomed as one of “Us” in what can be the greatest country in the world if we vigilantly remember who tried to take liberty from us.