Commentary: Lessons from 9/11

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A twisted girder from the destroyed World Trade Center in New York is Maryland's memorial to 9/11 victims at the state World Trade Center in Baltimore. MDGov Pics with Flickr

As I was waiting to get on an airplane for a flight to New Orleans this morning, having whizzed through security that didn’t exist 18 years ago, I thought this short piece by former Del. Herb McMillan found in my inbox set the right tone for the day.

He doesn’t mention it, but Herb, a Naval Academy graduate and Navy pilot, has been a pilot for American Airlines since 1991. Two of the four jets that were hijacked and crashed on Sept. 11, 2001 belonged to American Airlines, killing the pilots, crews and all the passengers, along with thousands of others. Len Lazarick

By Herb McMillan

If you listen to the news these days, you would think America’s going to hell in a handbasket.

We don’t seem to agree on anything. Even worse, many politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to have forgotten how to govern with grace, and disagree with civility. They attempt to ignite personal slights or minor disputes over policy into full blown crises, and the media is only too happy to pour fuel on the fire. It’s gotten out of hand.

So on this anniversary of 9/11, it’s fitting for all Americans to take a deep breath, and remember a few simple things about who we are.

First, the strength of America comes from our people, not from our politicians. On 9/11, you didn’t see many politicians at ground zero; you did see thousands of “ordinary” Americans rushing to the aid of their fellow citizens, without any thought for their own safety.

Second, whenever the chips have been down, “ordinary” Americans have never failed to do the extraordinary things necessary to ensure our country not only survives, but prevails.

And finally, we ordinary Americans are extraordinarily dedicated to the safety and well-being of each other, and the love of liberty that unites us all.

First, last, and always, the strength of America is us — ordinary Americans who’ve always risen to the occasion to do extraordinary things. That’s been true throughout our history; it was never more apparent than on 9/11; and it’s still true today.

Keep the Faith. America is us, and America is strong. We won’t let each other down. We never have.