photo - Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carries Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carries Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) 

Today is 9-12, one day after the 16th anniversary of the worst domestic terrorist attack in American history.

On this day 16 years ago, Americans realized their commonalities far outweighed their differences. For a short time, tragedy united a divided country of Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, blacks, whites and others segmented by identity politics. We all felt vulnerable and valued each other's lives.

Today, as portions of Texas and Florida endure the ruination of hurricanes, we can unite again. Regardless of petty differences based in rigid ideologies and negative assumptions, we all want to focus on and help the people facing the daunting tasks of rebuilding their homes, communities and lives after something bigger than humanity humbled us all.

USA Today reported that faith-based relief groups had provided nearly 80 percent of the aid delivered to communities and homes devastated by the hurricanes as of Monday. Voluntary charitable giving will far outpace anything government can do.

In Texas, people with boats volunteered for days without sleep to rescue strangers from homes overcome by floods. In Florida, physicians and first responders risked their lives to stay in danger zones to help those who could not or would not evacuate. Tragedy has brought out the best in humanity, and examples could fill books.

TV and radio talk show host Glenn Beck, sometimes considered a divisive voice, recognized the unifying force of tragedy in 2009. He created the "9-12 Project" to help fellow Americans remember how the country pulled together after the 9-11 attacks.

He built the nonpartisan project on nine principles, ranging from "family is sacred," to "America is good," to "the government works for me."

The 12 values were: honesty; reverence; hope; thrift; humility; charity; sincerity; moderation; hard work; courage; personal responsibility; and gratitude. They are values most of us hold dear.

With or without an organized effort to unify, we have an opportunity to stop the petty, partisan bickering on social media. We can recalibrate. We have a common enemy in the form of two natural disasters that treated everyone the same, without regard for what they look like or what they stand for.

Most Americans have friends and/or relatives directly affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. All of us will benefit by helping with recovery, whether by donating money, effort or support of any kind.

This is a chance for religious groups, atheists, agnostics, civic organizations, individuals and families to rally around the common good.

This country needs to heal. Let good emerge from the wreckage in Florida and Texas. As we did on Sept. 12, 2001, we can pull together as a culture with common goals and values that outweigh the issues that have ripped us apart. Have a peaceful and optimistic Sept. 12.

The Gazette editorial board

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