Anniversary of sadness

Wednesday will mark 12 years since the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and the dramatic crash of United 93.

We are now two wars and thousands of service people’s lives removed from that tragic day. The controversy and the bitterness go on.

It is strange how countries react to attacks and wars. World War II can honestly be said to have unified our country. The Vietnam War wreaked a tremendous toll on the country’s psyche and soul – it split us as a people. Period.

At first, the country seemed to come together after the 9/11 attacks. There were benefit concerts to aid families of the victims and a bipartisan effort to beef up our security and take on the extremists who had attacked us. Osama bin Laden became the poster boy for evil.

But the controversial decision to invade Iraq fostered a division. The new efforts at domestic security sparked questions about how much individual freedom must be given up. The division and the questions remain – enhanced even more perhaps by our presence in Afghanistan. Now we have to make a decision about what to do, if anything, about the gassing of innocents in Syria.

Yet, we have not endured another significant attack on the homeland since 9/11. Perhaps battling the enemy “over there” worked; perhaps the increased security has kept our enemies at bay.

But this sad anniversary has a lot of citizens questioning our direction.

Perhaps that is the biggest loss of 9/11 – the loss of confidence as a nation. Can we still be an inspiration and democratic example to nations like Iraq and Afghanistan? How about Syria?

How do we return to the confidence and optimism of a Ronald Reagan, who, in his farewell address, saw America as a “shining city on a hill”?

“In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.”

If only there was a way to make the rest of the world – and even our own citizens – view our country through Reagan’s eyes.

n Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.