By Max Z., Midwest Governor & Chair, Council of Governors
With great solemnity each year, the American people face September 11th with a complex potion of emotions, melancholy, remembrance, and just the slightest twinge of fear. It heralds a cascade of “where were you during 9/11?” questions and answers — every American recalls the word-of-mouth announcement or radio broadcast or grainy television picture that shattered — and quickly united — a nation. The permanence of the event on modern American identity becomes undoubtedly clear.
Perhaps most striking to me over the course of the past 16 September 11ths since that fateful day in 2001 is really the renewed breath of patriotism that inevitably comes at that point. On the 11th, for a brief moment, the nation ideologically coalesces to remember the lives lost and to renew their dedication to the American nation. Temporarily, we drape the American flag over our divisive ideologies; we are momentarily American more than anything else. For a country so often divided, this fleeting unison is remarkable and should be held as so.
Here at the Junior State of America, the union between individuals who otherwise may consider themselves fundamentally separate extends far past the temporal boundaries of events like 9/11. Young people across the nation enter spaces meant to foster dialogue on a year-round basis — week after week, they overcome the seemingly intrinsic desire to vilify their ideological opposites by engaging in respectful discourse. To me, the consistency and fervor with which they seek this unity and mutual understanding are almost too good to believe. Yet — it’s so remarkably real. With my own two eyes, I’ve watched pro-lifers and pro-choicers have deliberate, productive discussions with each other and shake hands afterward without much more than a mutual nod of understanding. I’ve watched environmentalists and industrialists come to middle-ground with each other. And the list goes on. Across ideological and personal boundaries, JSA students are put in contexts to build bridges — and they do so with great efficacy.
This September 11th, as you pay tribute to the victims of the attacks 17 years ago, I encourage you to hold tightly onto the sense of patriotism and national unity that may bloom inside your conscious; seek to make it a permanent mindset through discourse. Only then can we tie together our divisions and become one nation once again.
About the Author:
Max Z. is a rising senior at Naperville North High School in Naperville, Illinois, and is the Midwest Governor for the 2018-2019 school year. Max joined Midwest Cabinet via the midyear process in his freshman year. In sophomore year, Max worked as a Chapter Internal Affairs Agent for the Midwest, and as the SuperCabinet Deputy Director of Fundraising for MidSoHio Winter Congress. As a junior, Max served as Midwest Chief of Staff, his chapter’s Chapter President, and SuperCabinet Chief of Staff for Winter Congress. This year Max hopes to encourage a stronger push towards local political activism and involvement, improve chapter-level communication, and emphasize rural and urban expansion in the Midwest.