Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Our Country Needs To Rekindle The Unity We Felt After September 11th
Editor's note: This article first appeared in 2016 and is being republished for the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
In the weeks following the September 11th attacks, I could barely get through the days because my brother Jimmy was lost in the World Trade Center. It was only through the communal support and encouragement of others that I made it through each day, waking up, and putting one foot in front of the other, then trying to do it again the next day.
Even though that cobalt blue day shattered my world, there was just something uplifting about how people reacted to such horror, simply because, as a nation, we were never more concerned for each other.
We were a country united. We can be that way again.
Millions of Americans came together for impromptu candlelight vigils from Chicago’s Daley Plaza to Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach.
Dozens of neighbors huddled in my childhood home in Marine Park in Brooklyn bringing heaps of love and food.
The New York Blood Center received 36,000 units of blood donations.
A woman, who I will never know, gave me a soft blue tissue at our packed parish church, a tissue that I still have to this day because it not only dried my eyes, but touched my heart.
Cities and towns from across the country gave their very best firefighters to help at ground zero.
New York City would give its bravest as 343 New York firefighters gave their lives in an attempt to rescue people in the twin towers, including my brother, who had been trapped above the 102nd floor of the north tower.
We were also a country inspired.
From the very moment Brooklyn firefighters George Johnson, Bill Eisengrein, and Dan McWilliams raised the American flag over the rubble at ground zero, we were all galvanized.
A bronze relief sculpture is displayed on the wall outside of Ladder 10 located at the southwest corner of the World Trade Center.Timothy Hale
One by one, stories of inspiration flooded the headlines, like the indelible image of Firefighter Mike Kehoe running up Tower One, while everyone else was running down.
Stories like the two Marine veterans, Jason Thomas and David Karnes, who rescued two police officers pinned down under twenty feet of debris.
There’s also lesser known stories, like that of Brett Bailey who lost his life by choosing to help others down the stairs from the 71st floor of the south tower, rather than run down to save himself.
More personal is the inspiration provided to me by my brother Michael who let me cry in his arms at the subway station on Kings Highway in Brooklyn the day after the attacks, and my mother who was serving food to forty people in our living room, even though neighbors were clearly there to serve her, and my father, in the dining room, who looked me straight in the eye and told me everything was going to be okay.
The most inspiring, though, are the millions of veterans that have served in our armed forces since the day my brother never came home.
The author, Joe Quinn, then a member of the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team, left, and U.S. Army Capt. Patrick Dowdell, chief of operations assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, right, stand at the 9/11 memorial on Forward Operating Base Farah, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2010.U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rylan Albright
Why do I mention these stories of unity and inspiration?
Because 15 years after 9/11, with our current political climate, it may appear that we are a divided and uninspired country.
Don’t believe it.
On this anniversary of Sept. 11, for one day, shut off your television, log off Facebook, slide right to power down your iPhone and do a generationally difficult task:
Say hello to your neighbor. Go to the park. Introduce yourself to a stranger. Ask a police officer for directions. Perhaps be inspired to join the veterans, supporters and leaders of Team Red, White & Blue as they unite around the American flag in 133 communities across the country this Sept. 11.
For one day, don’t sit on the sideline, simply take some small step to connect with your community and be the inspiration that we all desperately crave.
Then, the next day, on Sept. 12, when the sun rises to a warm red-orange against the dewy white clouds of an eye blue sky, simply wake up, put one foot in front of the other, and try to do it again.
Human civilization is about fire. Creating fire is what separates us from the animals; extinguishing it without urinating on it, according to Sigmund Freud, marked the starting point for the most fundamental societies. It is also, at its core, a force of destruction — and, therefore, a weapon of war.
Army researchers have devised a method to produce ceramic body armor, lightweight but strong, from a 3D printer. Except that 3D printers are meant to print out knickknacks, not flak jackets — which meant that engineers had to hack into the printer to get the job done.
Hot on the heels of the Marine Corps's head-to-toe overhaul of infantry rifle squads, a handful of grunts at the Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California recently conducted field testing alongside a handful of autonomous robots engineered by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Squad X Experimentation program.
Eddie Gallagher was found not guilty on the most serious charges, but he could still leave the Navy as an E1
Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher dodged the most serious charges the Navy threw at him during his court martial, but his final sentence could be far worse than what the jury originally handed down.
If the convening authority approves the jury's sentence of four months' confinement and a reduction in rank from E7 to E6, Gallagher will be busted down to the rank of E1, according to Navy officials.
'I went to war for this country' — Mark Esper pushes back on Elizabeth Warren's accusation of working for his 'own financial interest'
An otherwise sleepy confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary nominee Mark Esper was jolted from its legislative stupor after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) grilled the former Raytheon lobbyist on ethical issues regarding his involvement with his former employer.