Where were you on September 11th, 2001?  That is the conversation many have shared since that day.  While we were shaken, our resolve for freedom has not wavered.

I was living in Canada at the time, married and a mom of a 13 month old son when the literal wake up call came from my sister in law describing what she had heard on the news.  The pain and shock was real.  Many Canadians offered their condolences to me personally.  Others warned me to be careful as I could be a target as an American living out of the country.  A hollow void hit my stomach when there was no way I could get back home as the borders were closed.  I thought of the future, my son and what would happen next.

In the midst of our family about to sell our current home and visiting the newly framed house we had just paid for to be constructed, I walked up to the opened framed area about to hold a brand new window.  I looked out of the open space and thought, "What have we done? What if everything crumbles financially and we own two houses?"  My heart grew heavier as I looked at my son and wondered what his future would be like.

After days of watching the attack footage over and over, along with the slicing and dicing of what happened and would could come, we needed an escape.  The boat was hitched up and off we went to a nearby lake.  Certainly 9-11 couldn't follow us there.  Even in the midst of our attempt to find an area void of the sorrow we couldn't.  A lone flag pole at the marina reminded us of the tragedy, a Canadian flag, half staff, flowing in the wind.

What have we learned from this? Hopefully there is a bigger picture you and I will take from 9-11. I see a different bigger picture every year.

This year, here is my thought: Why does it take a tragedy in this Country to unify us?  Why does it take a foreign attack, a tragic accident, a home grown shooting or a hurricane to bring us together as a nation?  How much more effective could we be at making everyone's lives better if we could have that same unity in times when there wasn't a tragedy?

Unity like this is possible and has existed in the past.  I've heard stories that politicians years ago in Washington DC would "cross the isles" socially on the weekend, families spending time together and return to the Capital building with opposing views the following Monday.  In our current political climate, a politician doing the same today would be seriously reprimanded for spending time with the enemy.

In my opinion it comes down to respect.  Somehow in the past few decades many have lost respect not only for another person's opposing viewpoint, but also for the actual person.

As the years go by, I realize there are so many respectable opinions that are different than mine, and if I keep an open mind and actually listen to other's perspectives, maybe I'd grow a little in understanding and respect of others. Maybe we'd find common ground.  That is unity, and unity is what brings strength: between two people, a community, a State and a Nation.

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