I remember where I was very clearly on the morning of September 11, 2001, when I heard the news. I don't think its a thing anyone who lived through it is likely to forget. I grew up a lot that day and in the days that followed, for it was the first time I'd seen my country attacked, the first time I'd seen grown men cry, and the first time I was a witness to fear tearing my neighbors, friends, and even family into divided camps. In the following weeks, months, and years, the fall out from this one morning's evil actions would lead to other decisions, good and bad, but mostly to mistakes. Mistakes wrought out of fear and ignorance, but deadly and harmful mistakes none-the-less.
But as the dust settled on the wreckage that day, we also saw a lot of courage and self-sacrifice: the firemen who ran into the collapsing buildings, the passengers who stopped the second plane from hitting the Pentagon, the outpouring of aid for the survivors and, more remarkable still, the almost immediate outcry against discrimination towards the Muslim American community. Americans grew up and in a lot of ways, grew together. With every evil action, it seems, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Great acts of courage and caring always follow disasters.
We've grown as a country since then. We've learned a lot about ourselves, both our weaknesses and our strengths, our limits as well as our abilities. It's too easy to look at the political discord and judge the entire character of the American people by it, but that, too, would be a mistake. The events of 9-11 remind us that terror and fear do not have the final say - we do.
Never forget. And never, ever, let terror or fear dictate terms.