I was sleeping. My alarm went off at 8:00 a.m., which was intended to give me enough time to shower and eat before starting work for the day. I looked down at my cell phone and saw that I had received a text message while I slept. It was from my girlfriend at the time, and it read: “Did you turn on the news? We can’t stop crying here at work.” My wits hadn’t even become fully operational yet, but I turned on the television to see what had happened. I don’t remember the channel, but it didn’t matter. The story was universal across them all.

At the time of my awakening, the first tower had already fallen, but the second was still clinging on. I remember the news anchor trying his best to report the news, but his voice was wavering. He said that the entire newsroom was praying, but that those on the scene were anticipating the fall of the second tower at any time. All of these thoughts were expressed off-camera, as footage of the second plane striking the tower was shown on an endless repeat from multiple angles.

I sat on the edge of my bed, staring at the screen in disbelief. I called my boss to see if our business would still be operating as usual, to which I was unfortunately informed “yes.” I couldn’t believe our company was making us report to work with such travesty weighing heavily on our minds. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to focus, but still, I did as I was instructed. Every customer that crossed the threshold came in with updates about what was happening in New York, the details of each story getting more and more difficult to stomach.

I remember the media trying to find a positive message amidst the horror of what had happened. They said that the events would bring us closer as a nation and that we could all put aside our politics to band together and show the terrorists that America would not be defeated. It was a beautiful sentiment that was over all too soon. It didn’t take long for us, as Americans, to put the past behind us and resume our petty daily squabbles.

Ten years later, I woke up at 8:45 a.m. I sat up in bed and checked my email and Twitter feed to see what was going on around the world. I saw many messages from friends and followers expressing their memories about that fateful day, each tagging their thoughts with #neverforget. Though sad, there was a comfort in knowing that we are all still linked at our core, despite our everyday differences, and it brought a smile to my face. If something good could have come from such a horrible day, I would gladly embrace the unity of my fellow brothers and sisters.

Regrettably, the feeling was fleeting, because mixed in with all the positive messages of hope were messages of people blaming one party line or the other for the world we live in today. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it really disappointed me to see so many people who just don’t get it. People that would use something as sacred as 9/11 as a platform to preach their party lines as though “their side” was suffering more than anyone else.

It breaks my heart to know that there are people who feel that way. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were targeted at ALL Americans, not just some. We were all hurt that day, regardless of which political affiliation we had. I worry sometimes that nothing was really learned that day in 2001. What happened to our unity and solidarity as a country? When did we get right back to picking sides and hating each other because of our differences? If you ask me, there could be nothing less American than that. Or maybe that’s why it upsets me so much. Perhaps that has become what it means to be American.

We may have survived the events of 9/11 as a country, but we’re not out of the woods by any means. We’re at the center of a constant threat every day. Our survival rests solely on the ability to function as one cohesive unit. So, let us remember and honor the memories of those that were lost at ground zero, and refuse to disrespect them by fighting amongst ourselves.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana

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