September 11, 2001 brought so much anger, disgust, and fear. None of us knew what the days before us would bring. The great America was no longer untouchable. We had become vulnerable and the enemy attacked that vulnerability.

This day 15 years ago changed the lives of so many. It left kids orphaned, wives widowed, and husbands alone as families were broken apart. The images are forever etched in my mind of dust covered business people and helpless individuals seeking relief by flinging themselves from windows and from the rooftop of the World Trade Center.

This day 15 years ago changed us forever, but we did not stay in the ashes. We did not accept defeat. We did not let the enemy claim victory. Instead, we rallied in the ashes and joined together as only we can. We saw people from all walks of life and from all parts of this country come together with one voice. Churches opened their doors to believers and non-believers alike. First responders made their way to NY to join their brothers and sisters in searching for any sign of life among the rubble. One of the greatest tragedies this country had ever seen didn’t tear us apart, but instead brought us together.

This day 15 years ago motivated countless men and women to devote their life to military service. This day saw folks run into the storm and not away from it.

This day 15 years ago was one of the darkest days in our history, but it was also one of the brightest. On this day, we didn’t see color, economic class, gender, or age. We simply saw the American people, our people, hurting. Our differences were set aside as we locked arms for a greater good.

This day 15 years ago must always be remembered. Not simply because this is the day a foreign enemy attacked us, but because this is the day where we saw clearly what we were made of. This is the day where many got off the sidelines and got into the fight.

This day 15 years ago seems so far from us now. Our country is more divided than I have seen it in my 30 plus years on earth. My heart aches for our nation, but I am hopeful because I know what is possible when we come together.

So, I ask you today to not simply mourn for the lives lost, but take some time to remember the togetherness this country experienced. Remember the bravery of so many who put their lives on the line for strangers. Remember the love that was poured out from around the globe.

Our country changed forever on that Tuesday back in 2001. Fear became a reality, TSA lines are now longer, attacks seem imminent, and our politics have pulled us apart. We would rather talk at people and not with people. We find our worth and “friends” in a monitor or a screen and not in relationships with our neighbors.

I spend a lot of time here and other places discussing life and the value it should be given. Every one of us knew, as the rubble laid on the streets of New York, that on 9/11/2001 life was precious and deserved our care. We all were, even if just for a moment, pro-life.

We cried, hugged, and joined our neighbors to mourn for fellow citizens. Homes, churches, and businesses opened their doors to assist communities in coping. Schools allowed conversations to occur in classrooms to offer relief for students seeking to understand the world they now called home.

Fifteen years can seem like an eternity, but it wasn’t that long ago that we all stood for something greater than ourselves. Can we get back there? Can we see our society join together again in one voice?

Life is intrinsically good. This is a truth that some struggle with, but all ultimately know. I will never forget what our country went through those 15 years ago. We will always remember the rubble, the death, and the hurt, but we must never neglect the love and the celebration of life that was poured out as thousands flooded New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania to stand and serve strangers.

This is who we are – people that love life and see its value. I pray we get back to that truth.

posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center