It didn't seem possible a dozen years ago today (Wednesday), but a lot of things have returned to normal.
There have been fireworks and parades on the Fourth of July. Kids still try to catch a glimpse of Santa on Christmas Eve. Kids in 4-H still have mixed emotions of pride and sadness when they sell their livestock at the Harford County Farm Fair.
And, unified in patriotism though we were on Sept. 11, 2001 and in the days and weeks that followed, we have long since discovered that we retained our differences.
It would be foolish to conclude that nothing has changed. The terrorist attacks of that clear late summer day had plenty of repercussions, and spawned the longest period of continuous wartime activity in U.S. history, resulting in yet another postponement of the day Isaiah saw when swords are turned into plowshares.
We have that many more people, for better or worse, to thank and honor on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The changes that have been absorbed into our culture are numerous and range in scope from hanging flags on highway overpasses to being vigilant about airport security.
It would be equally foolish to conclude that because the feelings of unity in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy have given way to the same kinds of disagreement that preceded the attacks that the nation is somehow lacking in moral fiber, or that one or another group is somehow less patriotic.
No one accuses the Founding Fathers of being unpatriotic at this late date, yet they disagreed profoundly among themselves on a range of issues. Disagreement and political discord, be it over U.S. foreign policy or the rate of pay for elected officials in Aberdeen, are not indications that there is somehow a lack of patriotism.
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Indeed, that people feel so strongly about such things is an indication that patriotism – that is to say, concern for the nation and its future well-being – is alive and well across the political spectrum.