Much to my surprise, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was incredibly inspiring. It showed how tough we are as a people and how far we have come since our darkest hour.
It certainly helped that the memorial at the Trade Center was so well-received, but the most remarkable thing was how the events rekindled the spirit of national unity.
On too many days since that awful attack, America has been splintered and angry. On Saturday and Sunday, we were one country again -- united in grief but also in courage and pride.
Like a family that only gets together at weddings and funerals, we are kin when it matters. The bonds have been strained, but not broken. It’s comforting to know that.
I almost missed seeing that because I didn’t plan to watch any of the ceremonies. September 11th happens to be my birthday, along with the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death, and the mix has become too painful. The less emotion the better, so getting lost in a book or watching football, before a quiet dinner with family and friends, seemed a safer choice.
But I stumbled on the televised dedication of the Pennsylvania memorial of Flight 93 Saturday and was deeply moved and inspired. The sparse simplicity of the event in a muddy field, coupled with eloquent remarks by former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton about the extraordinary heroism of the passengers, was uplifting.
As I woke Sunday, I realized I had to watch the Manhattan ceremonies, too. They packed an emotional wallop that sent my memories hurtling back to that horrible day and the period we New Yorkers euphemistically called the “aftermath.”
All of us who lived through it will never forget where we were, what we did and how we were shaken.
The solemn reading of the names, especially by the children of the fallen, signaled progress that was more than just evidence of time passing. The 9/11 kids will always have a unique hold on our hearts. Many are grown now, but they will forever be our kids.
Seeing presidents Bush and Obama together was another welcome display of reconciliation that made our political differences seem small.
That’s not to say those differences aren’t important. They are, and in two short days since, they already have reclaimed their dominance in our discourse. That’s democracy in action and I believe the founders wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, especially when so many people are hurting financially and looking to government for answers.
But the weekend showed we also are capable of reaching higher by collectively realizing that evil exists, and that the 9/11 strain represents a grave threat facing us all.
As if we needed reminding, the melting pot of family members rubbing the names on the memorial and experiencing their loss all over again reminded that terrorists don’t discriminate with their barbarism. Because we are again united in that reality, surely we can prevent our differences on other issues from permanently dividing us.
Ten years ago, it seemed America would never recover. In hindsight, it is obvious we would.
That’s who we are. We are Americans.
Even Congress got in the mood. On Monday, members gathered on the steps of the Capitol to sing “God Bless America,” as they had on 9/11.
Of course, there were many speeches, but Nancy Pelosi said the most important thing: “We know that God has truly blessed America.”
True. So let’s not screw it up.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist. To read his column on other topics, including Iran's president and his dinner invitation to Columbia University students, click here.