It's been 18 years since the terror strike on our country that shocked our national conscience. It seems both long ago and like yesterday. When I think of all that's happened in my life since September 11, 2001 it certainly feels every bit of 18 years. Yet when I think of that very day, the clarity of every memory, it seems like I can reach out and touch it.

I remember feeling guilty about having accepted a job offer in Detroit two years prior and not being here for an attack that so badly shook the state in which I was born and raised. 750 New Jersey families lost someone that day. Phone calls home to family and friends seemed inadequate.

The mood of the country lasted for months with so many different emotions we all felt. The sadness, the anger, the fear, the suspicion, etcetera. I feel it wasn't until January when President George W. Bush had to deliver the State of the Union Address that someone finally put it all in perspective. He opened his speech with words I never forgot. To this day I feel it was the greatest and most brutally honest State of the Union Address in history. These were his opening words.

"As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger."

This drew huge applause. Of course it did. It was honest, yet it summed up the power of good vs. evil, of the eternal flame that is the very hope and optimism called the United States. It didn't drive us apart. It brought us together. And we would go on.

The state of our Union has never been stronger.

These weren't just words. I had been seeing it for months. People were no longer strangers. We were no longer northerners or southerners, blacks or whites, old or young, rich or poor. We were just Americans. The state of our Union truly had never been stronger in those months following such a tragedy.

September 11th. We will never forgot.

Please let's never forget how we came together afterwards. Let's get back to that.

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