I did not realize we were under a terrorist attack until the second plane hit the Twin Towers in New York. As a Korean War veteran, I had seen the face of war. With the terror attacks on 9/11 and abroad, our great nation has found itself fighting a new enemy who we don't know well, who don't fight in uniforms but killed so many innocent people over fundamental beliefs based on violent hatred.
September 11 is bigger than the thousands of people who lost their lives and bigger than the first responders who put their lives in jeopardy. It's bigger than the fact that it led us into misguided wars in the Middle East.
It reminds us how infinitesimal we really are; no matter what our titles are, the fact is that everyone is vulnerable to those who whole heartedly exercise extremist hate and carry out unforgivable actions.
With all of the dangers that are out there and all the blessings this country has, there is no reason why we should feel a sense of animosity between Republicans and Democrats, between whites and Blacks, between Christians or Muslims.
Thousands of families, friends and heroic first responders were taken from us on 9/11. Thousands more have been killed from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were launched as a result of the terrorist attacks. This Sunday, as our nation mourns the loss of our loved ones 10 years ago, I hope we also remember how we came together as Americans to overcome our tragedy and showed our strength to the rest of the world.
After that terrible day of destruction and loss how New Yorkers and the United States united like never before. We did not need any speeches from mayors or presidents to know that when one gets past all of our physical and ideological differences, that we are part of one big, great family: the United States of America.
The world is undoubtedly safer with the death of Osama bin Laden, but fear and violent acts of terrorism continue to exist. While we continue to combat terrorist threats to our nation, we also must vanquish the forces that encourage humanity towards hate and violence. Every person across the world that is lifted from poverty, hunger and economic strife is another victory against the growing tyranny of fear.
With the increases in Americans who are unemployed, uninsured and uneducated, I hope we can work together to get through these challenging times in our country to become strong again as one nation, under God and indivisible.
Charles Rangel (D-New York) is the dean of New York's congressional delegation and the third third-longest currently serving member of the House of Representatives.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)