It’s what we say about September 11, 2001. It’s what we feel in our hearts. It’s the story we share with our children and grand children. It’s the day, that for many of us, we will never forget. A day that changed our lives forever.


Today, I want to write about the day after. September 12, 2001. Do you remember the day after? Do you remember how you felt? Sadness. Pain. Kindness. Empathy. Strength. Unity. We were Americans, and we wanted everyone to know it.


The world changed on September 12, 2001. American flags lined highways, streets, businesses and cars. We embraced our Nation and we embraced each other. Republican, Democrat, Gay, Straight, Conservative, Liberal, White or Black, it did not matter. We were United and ready to fight a battle and form a bond to protect Our People. Our Land. Our Freedom. We stood together. Hand in Hand.


I can remember the streets of Staten Island, and I am sure many have similar stories. You could go anywhere and feel the respect and empathy from others. Doors were held open, and small gestures exchanged. Our differences did not matter. We embraced our friends and welcomed strangers. We smiled at each other, the simpliest of acts that can change someone’s day, a simple smile. We were nice to people, but more importantly, we were kind to people. We were gracious. We thanked people. We truly cared. On September 12, 2001, We Were One Force. We Were Americans.


Now, that same Flag, Our American Flag, that we were all proud of, has caused a division between us. We have allowed politics to divide us. We have allowed color to divide us. We have allowed sexual orientation to divide us. We, the very same Americans of September 12, 2001, have allowed anger and hatred to win. We have allowed anger and hatred to make us forget what we all stood for on September 12, 2001. We have allowed others to see that Americans are not strong enough to embrace our differences. We are weak. We, in fact, have become the enemy, to each other.


Sunshine Sue Reali, East Stroudsburg