It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since two planes slammed into the World Trade Center towers, another into the Pentagon and a third crashed in a western Pa. field.

It was the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

A frequent visitor to New York City, I felt compelled to visit lower Manhattan in the days after the attacks. The sights, sounds and especially smells, will never leave me. There was a tremendous sense of mourning and shock that hung in the air. New York City had absorbed a tremendous body blow, but was still standing.

In the days, weeks and even years following the attacks, the country’s citizens rallied unlike any other time I’ve seen.

It makes one wonder what it would take to rally Americans today.

As we pause to reflect on the events of 18 years ago, let’s also take a moment to remember we are Americans. We. The people.

Whether you are a member of one party or the other, or an Independent, you are an American. We are Americans, regardless of which political team, athletic team, news team, we root for.

Take a moment to remember the lives lost on 9/11, the heroes who lost their lives saving others and those who to this day suffer health-related complications due to their work at the site of the horrific attacks.

Americans do not rate on a patriotism-based scale. It’s not how it works. Your red, white and blue is no more red, white and blue than another.

We together, and only we together, can make America the country so many aspire to be part of. We together are the America that rallied after the attacks at Pearl Harbor, and at New York and Washington.

We, as Americans, can unite to accomplish great things. We are America. Not you, or him, or her, but all of us.

Those men who killed thousands 18 years ago attacked America, not the individuals who went to work that gorgeous fall morning expecting nothing more than a typical day at work.

It can happen again. We can only win if we do so together.

The attacks from within are weakening our foundations.

Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal and can be reached at chris@standard-journal.com.

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