By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Eleven years after the attacks, and the country still coming to terms with September 11, 2012. Looking back, I can proudly say that we responded well. We were united. For a few months, we supported each another. In these days of attacks on teachers and unions, it’s hard to imagine we ever got on so well.
After, I remember being inspired by the hard work of volunteer firefighters and relief workers rolling up their sleeves and putting their brothers and sisters-in-need ahead of themselves. Out of the darkness, there was a ray of light. As scripture says, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and they staff they comfort me.”
After September 11, Christ was our nation’s comfort, and so were our countrymen and women. The worst times brought out the best in us. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. The Bush years were dark for women, the people-in-need, and people of color. Days were dark, and our voices weren’t being heard.
Things got worse. President Bush caused the housing market crash and the Great Recession. In 2008, the African American community was hit hard. Mass unemployment hit the north side. What little capital investment we had dried out. In many ways, we haven’t recovered. We have so much work to do.
In those dark times we managed to do some good. We elected Barack Obama to the President of the United States. Even now, it hardly seems real. Centuries of racial strife and discrimination all culminated in the election of a popular African American president.
Anyone can see that our communities, streets, and city blocks have as many problems as ever. President Obama has done everything right, passing health care reform and a stimulus that single-handedly saved the American economy. Later, he was blocked time and time again by stubborn Republicans who have openly admitted they only care about hurting the President’s reputation.
In the President’s “wins” column, we shouldn’t forget the order to eliminate Osama bin Laden. What a great moment. In ridding the world of that evil man, President Obama did what Bush could not.
After September 11, 2001, our nation responded to an awful challenge with amazing bravery. This is part of our national character. I believe we are country that never wants to settle for less. I don’t believe that we aspire to be a people who back down from big problems. I believe that we tackle these big problems head on. I believe that we stare them down until they don’t scare us anymore.
The going is tough, and I believe the time is long overdue for us to get going. As we remember the heroism and sacrifice of 9/11, I think that we should remember that many great men and women from New York, Washington, Wisconsin, and everywhere rose to the task.
Our problems with unemployment, disenfranchisement, and violence may not make the national news, but they are no less real. In facing our own challenges, we take inspiration from true heroes.