It’s never easy to talk about what happened on September 11th, 2001, and unfortunately that can sometimes make it difficult to come together to observe Patriot Day.</br></br>We all have a natural inclination to shy away from sad memories and heartache. It hurts. It makes us mad. It makes us scared. We’d all rather be happy, and being happy is a lot easier when we push these sorrowful thoughts from our minds.</br></br>But, here’s the thing: This is Patriot Day <em>and</em> National Day of Service and Remembrance. That’s the full name of this day of observance, and rightly so, because there are two sides to every coin.</br></br><strong>Remembrance</strong></br></br>Yes, there is the tragedy. And, we can never forget that. Most of us reading this will probably never forget what we were doing on that day in 2001. It was a day that changed this country forever and something that powerful deserves a place of prominence in our collective memory.</br></br>We are obliged to mourn the people we lost and support their loved ones with our thoughts and our hearts. It’s a hard thing, but it’s a responsibility we need to take seriously as a society; as a nation.</br></br><strong>Service</strong></br></br>This, on the other hand, is something we can and should celebrate. The mettle of any person – of any country – is only truly tested in tragedy. It’s easy to be strong when we’re at our best. Together, we faced a diabolical attack on our sovereignty, our psyches and our sense of nation, but we faced our fears head on and continue to do so today.</br></br>We laud the emergency responders, the military and law enforcement for their heroism on 9/11 and beyond, which is good, but we must not forget the broader strength of our community. We must not forget the so-called “regular” people who, time and again, ran back into the smoke and the chaos to help those they knew only as fellow citizens.</br></br><strong>Unity</strong></br></br>This is a triumph worth celebrating. Every day, we hear on the news about how the U.S. is fractured; how technology, money and divisive politics are eroding our sense of nationalism. But, when the chips are down Americans show up – we never quit and we never forget.</br></br>Today, we lower our flags to half-staff and we solemnly observe a moment of silence, but we do it with hope in our hearts because we stand united.