Like an individual, a nation is partially defined by how it responds in terrible times. After September 11, 2001 we had to decide how we would respond. Our military attacked Afghanistan and this appears to have been the right action to take. Unfrotunately, some used America’s pain and anger to move us down a terrible path. That path has been lined with torture, secret prisons, and the violation of some of our most basic principles. We should not be on that path and the sooner we can get off it, the better.
This is, of course, an election year. The Democrats and the Republicans have been launching attacks on each other and behaving in the usual way that rival parties do. Except for today. Today Obama and McCain came together to honor and remember those who were murdered in 2001. At that moment, one might imagine, they were no longer a Democrat and a Republican, but simply Americans. While this is a sad day, it was good to see them walking together.
While politics seems to necessarily involve competition and conflict, I think that our country would fare better if our leaders spent more time walking together as Americans and less time bickering along party lines. It would be a wonderful thing if they paused and remembered each day, rather than just on September 11.
As a country, we have constructed memorials to those who perished on 9/11. These memorials are fitting and it is right that we have made them. But, perhaps the best memorial we can create in their memory is a better America. Whoever gets elected in 2008 should start work on that memorial.