On the evening of September 11, 2001, Americans were angry, sick, heartbroken, and frightened. They bowed their heads in prayer. They cried. They held each other. For the faithful, they kneeled to their God and prayed for his love, guidance, and mercy. But on 9/11, they did something else. They stood as one.
We no longer stand as one. Years of division, anger, distrust, and political tribalism have torn at the fabric of American culture.
This piece is not my effort to assign blame, for blame abounds. Today, I remind Americans of good faith that we are one country, and what has made us special since our inception is our unflagging ability to stand as one, in liberty … at the toughest times.
We are a great nation. It is because we are comprised of great people. Trust me, America will cease to be great when her people cease to be kind, generous, free, and united.
We are not a perfect people. Those don’t exist. There are no perfect parties, perfect candidates, perfect governments, or perfect countries. How could there be without perfect people?
America was founded in imperfection … but sired by an enduring promise that through liberty, we would seek a “more perfect union.” Seek and seek perfection we have. Fallen, stumbled, and failed we have as well.
However, when America falls … or when we have been knocked down … America stands. She gets back up. Her people dust themselves off, nurse and care for the wounded, protect the innocent, and with the resolve born of decency and freedom … we stand united.
When we stop standing … we stop fighting. When we stop fighting for that perfect union, it will disintegrate.
A country of 330 million unique people, diverse cultures, and vastly different needs and geographic realities is not easy to unite. It is far easier to split such a country.
No one can split America … but Americans. Why would we ever want to do that?
On 9/11, radical Islamic terrorists killed nearly 3,000 Americans. They sought to scare us, draw us into their war on modernity, and ultimately split us. Let’s not kid ourselves, we split quickly. The war raged, and at times it has ebbed and flowed. It is far from over, but the organized armies of terrorists have taken heavy losses and retreated to safe-havens in terror-sponsoring countries.
We have an obligation to stand together and finish the job. Let’s roll.
That’s not the sole purpose of this piece today. Indeed, this piece is a reminder that the only threat America faces is the enemy within. It is the threat of political fanatism, distrust, cults of personality, and an unceasing effort by many … on both sides … to rip unity from our great country and slice America into a series of little groups of disdain-filled, special interests.
Each American must reject this, and he or she must demand that their respective party or tribe reject it too.
America is best united in acts of generosity, not acts of depravity, disrespect, or self-interest. I get it. I know how to fire up a group, a base, or a set of people on political issues. Trust me, I am skilled at it.
You know what is much harder? Try uniting everyone.
Since the Civil War ended, we have unified ourselves based on the Constitutional principles of our founding and around the unity that is represented by our flag. The flag reminds us that no matter our differences, perceived or quite real, we are unified as Americans.
We are working … sometimes together … and sometimes separately or at odds with each other to build that more perfect union. What the flag does is it gives pause to the tribalism and resets our thinking to remind us that the purpose of our advocacy, no matter its cause, is to make America better than she has been.
Making America great … and greater … and more perfect, is a constant, generational project and ongoing American obligation. It begins first by recognizing that we want our nation and her people to be great and to be unified.
In unity, America is unbeaten and unbeatable. That’s why we stand for our flag.
That’s why when old glory is unfurled, we leap to our feet. When the flag hits the ground on the battlefield, we fight to raise her. When liberty pushes back tyranny, as she has from the revolutionary war, to the civil war, through Mt. Suribachi, and on to 9/11 … we hoist our flag.
Nowhere in those trying historical times … did we kneel for our flag. We kneel in prayer. We kneel to our God and speak with him as we deem fit. That’s all appropriate.
For our country … we stand. We raise our flag, not because America is perfect … but because America is unified in the idea that we stand for that more perfect union.
No matter your cause, your celebrity, your emotion, or your righteousness … you will never unify America at the expense of respect for our country and flag. You will never earn the ear, the conscience, or the respect of your fellow Americans when you break the code of unity that our flag represents.
We literally cannot hear you if you are not on your feet.
Together, standing in respect, we can hear the voices of all Americans. From that respect and unity, we can work productively to defeat the scourge of any ill, from war, to terror, to social change and injustice.
Listen to this American. Learn from the history of our country too. When the flag goes up, we stand in unity. If you are not prepared to do so, don’t expect to be heard or taken seriously.
On 9/11 … we are given a stark reminder of why we stand, and how standing in unity makes us stronger.
Author: Richard Kelsey
Richard Kelsey is the Editor-in-Chief of Committed Conservative.
He is a trial Attorney and author of the new book on higher education, “Of Serfs and Lords: Why College Tuition is Creating a Debtor Class”
Rich is a former Assistant Law School Dean and Law Professor. At Mason Law Kelsey conceived of, planned, and brought to fruition Mason’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, known as CPIP, drawing on his expertise as a former CEO of a technology company specializing in combating cyber-fraud.
Before returning to private practice, Rich taught legal writing and analysis and an advanced litigation seminar. In 2014 he was elected by the graduating class as the faculty speaker at their graduation.
He is a regular commentator on legal and political issues in print, radio and on TV. Rich has appeared on hundreds of stations as a legal expert or political commentator. He provided the legal analysis for all stages of the Bob McDonnell trial and appeal for numerous outlets including NPR and WMAL.
Rich also writes on occasion for the American Spectator and CNSNews.com.
In his free time, Rich is part of the baseball mafia of Northern Virginia, serving on numerous boards and as a little league and travel baseball coach.
His Twitter handle is @richkelsey.