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Carl: America needs another September 12 moment

This past weekend, countless people across the globe paused to remember and honor the lives lost in the deadly terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This day marked the deadliest attack on American soil in the history of our nation – nearly 3,000 innocent civilians and first responders lost their lives at the hands of radical terrorists aimed at destroying America.

One thing we learned that day, and in the days since, is terrorists can destroy buildings and property, but they cannot destroy the soul of America. Everyone alive at the time remembers where they were on September 11 as we watched with shock and horror while the events unfolded on that horrible day. I’ll also never forget the September 12 feeling of unity when Americans of every race, color, creed, and religion joined together as one to rebuild and move forward. For many weeks and months after the attacks, everyone treated strangers around them as brothers and sisters. This helped us heal as a nation and gave some sort of sense to the tragedy endured by so many.

It’s now been more than 20 years since 9/11, and I’m afraid many of us have lost the ability to come together as one and unite against common problems. Nobody will argue we have got some tough problems in our country which need to be addressed. Whether it’s the growing crisis at our southern border, increasing inflation and national debt, the chaos in Afghanistan, or the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, there are some real issues facing our country. Unfortunately now, all too often when faced with a problem or a crisis, many of us retreat to our corners and get on social media to point fingers or name call.

Despite what seems like a never-ending list of crises we have to deal with, I still firmly believe we as Americans can overcome anything thrown at us if we loosen our fists and come together again like we did on September 12, 2001. We are all guilty of making every issue about Republican vs. Democrat or religion vs. religion, but what makes America special and strong is the ability to put aside our differences and work together for the common good. Now more than ever, it’s critical to remember we are at our strongest when we work together, and we are at our weakest when we divide and tear each other apart. It’s not too late for America to be the shining city on a hill once again.

Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.