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The National September 11 Memorial and Museum are set for a memorial service, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in New York. Thousands of 9/11 victims' relatives, survivors, rescuers and others are expected to gather Monday at the World Trade Center to remember the deadliest terror attack on American soil. Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked planes slammed into the trade center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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Jay Greeson

My grandmother's birthday was today. I never truly remembered it before 2001.

Now, I never forget it.

No one forgets this day. Sept. 11 is right there on the Rushmore of unforgettable days.

Sure, the folks old enough to remember Pearl Harbor certainly can contest that statement. For the rest of us, that Tuesday morning will always be part of the horrifying question: Where were you when you heard about the 9/11 attacks?

We all know. We all remember.

But today, as we pause and take several moments of silence and reflection on the murderous and heinous acts of that day, pause and ask yourself this:

Could we respond today, on the anniversary of THAT day, like we did on this day in 2001?

America has traditionally been at our best when things look the worst.

You could make the argument that today, with the way we view each other, view the president, view those who do not think like us, look like us, worship like us, we have forgotten what the real enemy looks like and wants to do.

Think of the low points and how we reacted. The Great Depression. The days after Pearl Harbor. The race toward the moon. Seventeen years ago today.

We ignored our disagreements in those low moments and grabbed hands and unified against a singular foe that could not care less about any of the day-to-day divides we face, be they cultural, philosophical, political, economic or anything else.

Times of tragedy always galvanized our country. It is arguably one of our history's strongest and greatest attributes.

If Sept. 11, 2001, happened on Sept. 11, 2018, would we come together?

I pray that we would. But the unknown in these divisive times makes that more hope than fact.

Consider how we have turned so many tragedies over the last few years into debates about gun control or race relations or school safety.

After the horror of 9/11, my second memory is of our unity. People of all regions of this country, of all religions, races and parties were focused on a common goal and mission.

An attack against one American— or almost 3,000, as it turned out — is an attack against all of us.

Do we feel the same 17 years later? I don't know.

Would a deadly external attack cause us to stop our verbal internal attacks? I don't know.

We live in a place where our societal differences — political views, skin color or religious beliefs — certainly feel more powerful than ever before.

Tragedy has always brought America together.

Is that still the case? I hope so.

I pray that we would. Almost as strongly as I pray that my kids will not have a day they will never forget like 9/11.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

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