Something else I’ll remember is what happened on United Airlines Flight 93. Two planes had already taken down the Twin Towers in New York City and a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Although we’re not sure what the target for the fourth plane was, we know with complete certainty that it was headed for an important site with the intention of killing the maximum number of people possible. That was not to be.
I’m sure that the passengers on Flight 93 represented a cross-section of the political philosophies here in the United States…conservative to liberal. It didn’t matter that day. One of the men who led the counter-attack on the terrorists was gay. It didn’t matter that day. In an amazing display of courage and clear thinking under the most extreme circumstances, these brave people managed to assess the situation, come together to devise a plan and boldly implement it within a matter of minutes. When the time came, they stood up and said, “Let’s roll.” Roll they did. They gave their lives in the process but in all likelihood, they saved many more lives with their actions. No one on the ground was injured. Whatever the target had been, it was not attacked.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, our country came together for a time. We understood that whatever our differences, we were bound together by much more important similarities. We stood together. I am a Texan and over the years, I’ve certainly enjoyed giving my friends from New York City a hard time. I remember thinking, “I can pick on them but by God, I’m willing to stand up to any of these hate-filled monsters and protect them in any way I possibly can.” Politics didn’t matter; people’s sexual orientation didn’t matter. We were all Americans.
Over time since then, that solidarity has eroded. These days, we’re locked in partisan gridlock. Our elected officials don’t seem to be willing to work together to address the critical issues we face and develop strategies to solve the problems related to those issues. We have people of all political stripes who treat each other as if we are the enemy. People talk a great deal yet few seem interested in listening. Compromise is a dirty word. We cannot afford to continue to go down this path.
I hear people say of 9/11, “Never forget.” Here’s what I think we need to remember. When push came to shove on United Airlines Flight 93, brave citizens set aside whatever differences there might have been among them, identified the problem and took action. They gave their lives for us. We OWE them! We need to stop focusing solely on the issues that divide us and begin looking at all the common ground we share. We need to actually spend some time listening to one another and seriously consider new and different solutions to problems. We need to politely tell our politicians, if they insist on remaining gridlocked, to sit down and shut up. We’ve got work to do; we’ve got problems to solve. We owe it to the brave passengers on Flight 93 and more importantly, we owe it to our children. Enough arguing. Let’s roll.