The days and months following the collapse of the Twin Towers and the attack on the Pentagon brought out the best in people, and for a brief time, the nation was united in our desire for peace, our respect for the dead, and our love of country. Americans came together without pride or prejudice, and the rest of the world stood next to us in solidarity and support. But nine years later, America is a fractured and contentious place. While troops in Afghanistan continue the fight started on 9/11, here at home, there has been heated, politicized debate over a Florida pastor's (now "suspended") Quran-burning event, and over a planned Islamic cultural center two blocks away from Ground Zero, to name just two examples. As the rhetoric grows louder and the debate more acrimonious, we look back on the original spirit of community, humility, and grace that swept America and the world in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Above: As smoke rises from the ruins of the World Trade Center, a Palestinian-American woman participates in a candlelight vigil for peace on Sept. 16, 2001.