The sight was inspiring — a large American flag draped from the ladder of a fire truck outside of Enterprise City Hall on Friday, Sept. 11.

The flag, of course, was part of a nationwide remembrance of the deadly, Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our nation.

Ceremonies to mark the deadly day cropped up across the nation, a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives.

In 19 years, much has changed, nothing more so than the outlook of the nation that suffered the unprovoked attack that day in September.

The terrorist attacks marked surely one of the nation’s darkest days. Yet, our response to the seemingly overwhelming death and destruction was to band together, to unite to face a common enemy. When one views that day through the prism of 19 years, its tragic overtones remain as vibrant as ever but the images of unity, of overcoming surely one of our greatest historical challenges, also continue to resonate.

They resonate because we are not that same nation any longer. Division and controversy rule the airwaves not cooperation. Problems are everlasting, not susceptible to solutions. Political rhetoric — so ramped up, so divisive — blockades any kind of long-lasting unity.

Political battle lines — as strong and as explosive as they were before the Civil War — are drawn in the sand and common sense is shelved. Candidates are no longer judged on their actual worthiness to represent votes, but on the fact they are either Democratic or Republican.

Red or blue. There is no in between.

What is left in the wake of this modern American political dysfunction fueled by half-facts and conspiracy theories, is an electorate that has essentially turned over its obligation to be the arbiters of democracy.

We need to find a way to get back to where we were in the shadow of the dark days after 9/11. We shouldn’t need a historical, wartime event to bring us together in a unified way to address problems that affect us all. That we are obliged to fall back on a day like 9/11 to find unity is as tragic as the thousands of lives lost that day to the terrorists.

We, as a nation, can do much better. And we should.

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