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Editorial: The lessons of 9/11

Sept. 11, 2001, brought us together as a country, but we put unity aside all too quickly.
Blame it on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigration, the recession, the Democrats, the Republicans ó or all of the above. Whatever the cause, the United States stands divided, as the brinkmanship of the debt-limit debate proved all too well.
Like a couple on the verge of divorce, we ask, ěWhat happened to us?î
The problem goes beyond Congress and national headlines. Congress takes cues from constituents, and itís not unusual to hear and read the same political animosity in Rowan County that pops up in Washington. People arenít satisfied to respectfully agree to disagree.
As we relive 9/11 and look at the steps the country has taken since then, we should remember, locally and nationally, what unites us is greater than what divides us.
Thereís no denying the sadness that comes with revisiting the horrific losses of 9/11. The nearly 3,000 people killed left behind a nation of mourners; our innocence was destroyed. The desire for security held us together then, and thatís still true now. With ramped up airline security, increased intelligence activities and more ó none of it perfect, but all of it stronger than before ó we are much safer now. Locally, emergency responders and law enforcement agencies have become better coordinated, with cross-agency training and communication. The federal government has poured millions of dollars into Rowan agencies to make sure they are well-equipped and trained.
We stand united behind our Armed Forces, stationed in harmís way in Iraq, Afghanistan and other points around the world. Unfortunately, because the wars have drawn out, the only people who stay focused on the dangers of these conflicts besides our soldiers are their families. Life has gone on as usual for most people. Never has the nation asked so much from so few for so long.
We are united in an increased awareness of the world beyond our borders, including cultural awareness. Of course, awareness does not always equate acceptance or understanding; sometimes it simply causes suspicion. But high school history and civics classes now teach lessons about cultures and religions that were completely left out of our education for many years. Weíre learning.
As the country unites in remembering what happened 10 years ago today, the magnitude of those losses towers over our petty political differences. In many ways, our reaction to the attacks made this country stronger. We should continue to strive for solid security, better understanding, greater awareness ó together.

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