This week, as always, provides some time for reflection. The tragedy that took place 18 years ago, to many, still elicits strong memories and emotions from those who witnessed it, even if it was through the lens of television.

Those of us old enough to remember 9/11 will never forget where we were or what we were doing. The Courier newsroom shared its memories of that moment earlier this week.

However, as the week has gone on, there has been a lot of talk about what came out of the unthinkable tragedy, which is now “ancient history” to those in high school, as someone said on the radio Wednesday morning.

My cousin shared her thoughts on explaining the anniversary to her children. She struggled with the idea of her small children wrapping their minds around such a terrible happening. She said she decided instead to “talk about all the people that helped those who were hurt rather than the monsters that did it.”

Some people have shared similar thoughts. Volunteerism events, such as the Day of Caring that Ottumwa participated in, were born out of a response of desiring to come together. An ESPN reflection shared memories of sport after 9/11. When baseball games resumed in New York after the attacks, the Atlanta Braves visited the New York Mets. They were described as bitter division rivals, but after the national anthem, all the players met in the middle of the diamond and hugged.

“We were bitter rivals, but if I didn’t hug every player on that team, I came damn close to it,” reflected Atlanta outfielder Chipper Jones.

That’s what I hope comes out of the 9/11 reflections going on this week. Rather than focusing on our divisions — racial, political, religious or whatever — as has been going on so much lately in our country, I hope people can celebrate what brings them together.

One item shared across social media embraces that idea: “I would never want another 9/11. But I miss the America of 9/12 … People were Americans before they were upper/lower class, Jewish/Christian, Republican/Democrat. … On 9/12, what mattered more was what united us than what divided us.”

Or, as the man on the radio station said, “We got rid of the pettiness and we were one united person.”

Let us never forget the terrible attacks, the lives lost and a country changed forever. But also, let’s not forget how we, as a nation, all came together.

— Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

Recommended for you