On September 11, 2001, in the wake of a devastating attack on its most populous city and the seat of its military might, the United States made a profound choice as to how it would respond to the greatest single loss of American life since Pearl Harbor. America decided that in its collective moment of chaos and peril, it would transcend standard political divisions and insist on unity instead. America chose a rallying cry not of “we need revenge” but “United we stand.”
“United we stand” had a dual meaning for Americans at the time. On the surface, it meant that Americans would respond with united action to the attacks but it carried a symbolic meaning as well. On 9/11, terrorists turned the Twin Towers into a pile of twisted metal, destroyed a section of the Pentagon, brought a commercial airliner down in rural Pennsylvania, and left thousands dead. “United we stand” was a direct rebuke to the terrorists’ belief that by bringing buildings to the ground, America would be brought to its knees.
Immediately after 9/11, Americans began living by the motto of “United We Stand”. Thousands of American flags flew off the shelves across the country as people began to fly them outside of their homes and the number of first-time blood donors reached record highs as Americans gave a part of themselves to help the victims of the attacks. Ten-thousand people volunteered to clean up Ground Zero, citizens coalesced around their leader President Bush, and Congress nearly unanimously passed the AUMF that started the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We stood united as one against terrorism. Al Qaeda’s goal of ripping America apart failed.
The phrase “United We Stand” did not originate in the aftermath of 9/11 but instead from Aesop’s fables. In this era of political polarization and increased political violence, it is more important than ever to remember that “United We Stand” is only half of the original phrase, shortened from “United we stand, together we fall.” As Americans did after 9/11, when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges and perilous danger we must refuse to succumb to reactionary instincts and stand united as one country against the threats we face and behind the values for which we believe.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.