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Only our solidarity will save us

The memorials held last Sunday in Pagosa Country and across the nation noting the 10th anniversary of the events of 9/11, were somber, heartfelt and true to the memories of those lost in those horrific events in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

More than the U.S was attacked and injured on that day 10 years ago. The notion of civilization itself was threatened. Those who perpetrated the acts struck out in barbaric fashion against civilization, progress and enlightenment. Those who were lost cannot be forgotten if we are to preserve the values and institutions that were abused that day. It is their sacrifice, as well as that of Americans who have made sacrifices in two wars since 9/11, that stands as a beacon reminding us of what we value, and how we should live.

We paused to remember that horrible day 10 years ago and, considering what we thought and felt at that time, we realized there is more to this occasion than the memorial to the fallen. The “more” relates to “how we should live.”

The day following 9/11, Americans experienced something unprecedented since World War II — a general sense of togetherness, of a collective identity as the people of a nation, members of communities, neighborhoods, families. Most Americans felt a bond with one another, one that crossed political, religious and economic divides.

We were in it together.

But, how many days did it take for that feeling to begin to wane or, more particularly, for people to begin to chip away at the feeling of solidarity and common purpose?

It was but a couple days after the horror that some were pointing fingers, asserting that their political or religious adversaries were, in some way, responsible for the events.

As years passed, critics even began to attack the survivors and families of the dead and missing. Others opposed assistance to first-responders and to those who worked at Ground Zero in Manhattan who began to experience serious health problems.

Our sense of solidarity did not survive.

And we are the worse for it.

Instead, we have a deepened political divide, a greater gulf between Americans holding various opinions, between ethnic groups and economic classes. We are daily knocked about by a barrage of hateful rhetoric. Our politics are paralyzed by a stalemate flowing from a corrupt campaign finance system and by the partisan rantings of talking heads in the 24-hour news cycle. The economy has buckled, the middle class is disappearing, the gulf between rich and poor widens as animosities grow. The events of 9/11 are now too often embodied in gaudy, cheap, foreign-made artifacts sold on the shopping networks and hustled in brazen magazine ads.

We are in poor shape as a country, battling a desperate economic situation and traversing a worrisome political landscape. The only thing that will save us is the kind of solidarity we experienced on that day 10 years ago. Our destinies and those of our families and Americans of the future are inextricably linked. We all swim. Or we all sink.

Together.

Correction

A friend noted she told someone last week’s editorial, “was right on the money.”

How wrong she was — at least in one, critical respect. The editorial was not right on the money, literally. It was noted that the proposed school bond could provide the district with as much as $59 million. That is wrong. The amount is $49 million. A similar mistake was made in an article concerning ballot language for the upcoming November vote.

We regret the errors and any confusion they may have caused.

Karl Isberg

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