How united are we?

How united are we?

Firefighters place caps over hearts in memory of those lost during the Setauket Fire District's 9/11 Memorial Commemoration Sept. 11th. Photo by Greg Catalano,

On the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, we reminisce about how on that day, and for so many days that followed, we felt united as a country. A persistent theme when discussing the events is that the aftermath of the attacks brought us closer together as a nation. Our editorial staff would argue that 15 years removed means we still reside in the aftermath, and the legacy of 9/11 is still being written.

If we continue to splinter along party and racial lines, ties that bound us together in a time of horrible tragedy will simply be forgotten.

There was evidence that immediately following the events, we grew closer as a nation. Stories proliferated about long lines of blood donors, American flags flew everywhere — on front porches and cars — people took the time to help one another and civility ruled the day. And as we observed memorial events throughout the past weekend, communities still came together in harmony and with pride.

The initial feelings of solidarity as a reaction to the horrific events were real. However, we would hope that 15 years later, this feeling of unity would continue to apply to more issues.

After visiting classrooms and speaking with teachers, some of whom are now educating children who were born after that day in 2001 or are too young to remember it, the theme of unity struck a chord with them as well.

Our editorial staff wonders how America right now must look to those same students. They can turn on the news and witness divisiveness in an unfathomably ugly election season or see an NFL player being both heavily criticized and highly praised for kneeling during the national anthem. Do we still seem united?

While we feel a sense of togetherness on the anniversary of that day, as we recall the tremendous loss of innocents, or remember those who risked their lives to save others and think of those out there fighting to protect this country, there is still an overwhelming sense that we are growing further and further apart.

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