Eighteen years ago yes­terday, people across the United States woke up believing they had just expe­ri­enced a nightmare. But alas, it wasn’t. Evil had ram­paged a beau­tiful city and taken the lives of innocent Amer­icans who never antic­i­pated that their mundane, 9‑to‑5 workday would result in such terror.

But on Sept. 12, the sun rose again, and life carried on, even if with emo­tional scars and sudden moments of dis­belief that resulted from the attacks on 9/11.

America was strong. And America remains strong.

Though no attack to the scale of what hap­pened on that dreadful day has occurred in the United States since, other factors have slowly eaten away at our country’s morale.

Most college stu­dents today were too young to remember that day, but stories from our parents and older sib­lings have left us with vital lessons from the attacks.

After 9/11, Amer­icans came together as one people and one country, equipped to extend a helping hand and shoulder to cry on to any fellow American, in spite of their political or reli­gious ori­en­tation.

Rarely do we extend this same peaceful and appeasing approach to our fellow Amer­icans today, and God forbid that we should see it again with another national tragedy as trau­matic as what occurred on Sept. 11.

It has become popular opinion to think poorly of our country and the people therein, but we must remain pos­itive, encour­aging, and keep morale strong. America is a country of oppor­tunity, and a place to truly be and become whoever you want to be.

Why are we so hard on one another?

9/11, though tragic and painful, was a sacred day for our country and where we became reminded of our common blood as Amer­icans. On that day, nothing else seemed to matter. Neither pol­itics nor par­ti­sanship nor faith divided the American people.

But those warm feelings of broth­erhood didn’t last long. Many would describe our nation’s political climate in the same manner, although not to the same extreme, yet we easily forget this truth of Amer­i­canness when inter­acting with others throughout our day or on our social media feeds.

On the anniversary of that tragic day, America must remember the thou­sands of lives lost and the strength, com­radery, and empathy that bound our nation together and pushed us forward, even in such a dark time in our country’s history.

If we refuse to lose sight of the love for our country and our love for one another, no dark shadow will be cast across America, but if one does, our light will shine bright across the globe.

We must hold on to our Amer­i­canness.

The 9/11 Memorial towers above New York City. | Courtesy Isabella Redjai