September 11th, 2008
12:22 PM ET

9/11 – Beyond Politics

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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John P. Avlon
Author, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics

A brief posting on the 7th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Congratulations to both Senator Obama and Senator McCain for putting politics aside to attend the memorial service at Ground Zero together.

This day is much bigger than politics. It must not be a partisan remembrance, just as winning the wider war on terror cannot be a partisan goal – it is an American responsibility.

Terrorists did not care on September 11 whether their targets were Republicans, Democrats or Independents. All that mattered was that they were Americans. And in the more than 20 terrorist attacks stopped at home and abroad since then, differences of domestic political affiliation remain irrelevant and absurd in our enemies' eyes.

Through the invasion of Iraq, and much of the 2004 campaign, the Bush administration did make this wider war on terror a source of partisan debate and partisan division. This has been unhelpful in our larger mission as a nation

And if Democrats should win this election, one bright spot which may emerge is a recognition that this war against us is not optional – if ignored it will not go away. Democrats have just as much responsibility as Republicans to win this wider war against Jihadism. It is inseparable with the larger constitutional responsibility of protecting the American people.

There is reason to hope that some of the polarization that has accompanied this era will end, or at least heal with the end of the Bush administration. Both candidate favor closing Guantanamo and ending torture – some of the most divisive elements of this wider war. But the wake up call of September 11th which spurred wider awareness of the conflict with Jihadism, must be beyond partisanship.

The urgency of this anniversary may have faded for some – but not for me and not for millions of Americans who will always carry the scars of that day. We can now remember without reliving it. But forgetting is a form of historic amnesia that disrespects the dead and weakens our resolve to learn from that searing experience.

And so as we remember the nearly 3,000 lives who were lost seven years ago, especially in this election year, let's try to rededicate ourselves to the spirit of unity which emerged immediately after the attacks – in recognition that what we share as Americans far outweighs those things which divide us.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Gordon

    HF, yes we do know that the military sets the deployment date, but this isn't the deployment date, it's the deployment celebration. Why did that happen to occur today?

    September 11, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  2. Norm

    Everyone needs to pause and consider what erratic behavior on our part was brought about by 9-11.
    We used it as an excuse to destroy the country of Iraq and kill tens of thousands of their civilians.
    We did not show rationale or reason when we dropped our shock and awe on the Iraqi's.

    September 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  3. HF in CA

    This is a beautifully written post that inspires us to put aside politics for the sake of unity. It is a shame that a fellow Californian can't seem to do that, insisting that Sarah Palin is using September 11 for political gain. We all know that the military controls deployment dates, but some people just want to ignore that.

    To John Avlon, kudos for this great post. I have especially taken the last paragraph to heart - that what we share as Americans is greater than the political divisions among us.

    September 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  4. Anna

    To Susan above: Even for one minute you cannot stop your nastiness and leave politics out. What a shame. I hope everybody else just for a day stops the nastiness and the political comments and think of our country and the people we lost on that tragic day.

    September 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  5. Brendan

    Way to be accusative Susan. It was a hard day, for everyone...but I would have loved for anyone to Hoo-rah and wave a banner the day I went to war for this country. Maybe she just really cares, and is proud of her son, and his actions on this day signify his dedication to the ideal that she herself envisions as the future of our country. Or she was using it for self gain...Only she can answer that, not either of us.

    September 11, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Susan

    If September 11 is beyond politics, its amazing how Sarah Palin – showing herself as an opportunist, – is using this date and the departure of her son to Iraq for political gain. This is not a day for banners, hoo-rahs and sending our children and citizens off to war. This is a day to remember the father, mother, sister, brother who simply went about their daily life and have this horrible end.

    Its not about war, its about sorrow. I remember my former co-workers who transplated to Cantor Fitzgerald. I remember five horrid days stuck on the East Coast trying to find a way back home to my family in San Francisco, and I live with the guilt that I celebrated that I was not on that flight back home that day. I remember my travel companion missing for 3 days until we received a call from her saying she was fine. I remember the day, hour, minute and the people always in my prayers and forever in my heart and mind.

    Its not about you Sarah, Its about "us". Shame on her!

    San Francisco

    September 11, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  7. Cindy

    Yep...this is definitely a day that we should put aside any differences that we have and come together as one to show unity for the ones lost in this tragedy. And to show the world that although this happened to us it didn't and won't ever destroy us! That it only made us stronger.


    September 11, 2008 at 1:01 pm |