Ask most 25 years or older where they were on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, and they’ll likely give an exact account of what they did that day.
Tuesday will mark the 17th anniversary of that fateful morning when the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda launched four terrorist attacks which killed 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others.
Many Americans were on their way to work that morning and others were at home, where they watched the events unfold on live television.
Two planes attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center, another crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth airline attack was stopped by passengers in Shanksville, Pa.
It was one of the benchmarks in history in the same regard as Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
The events of 9/11 brought a sense of unity to what had been a sharply divided nation. It marked a period when lawmakers on Capitol Hill reached out, put political angst aside and realized that in the end, they were all Americans.
It did not take long for that to change -- less than a year, in fact.
In the two years since the Great Flood of 2016, thousands of residents in south Louisiana now consider the weekend of Aug. 14 a benchmark date, something we now look at from a “before and after” perspective in the same way we as Americans view 9/11.
The aftermath of the flood taught south Louisiana residents the importance of working together for a common cause.
Philosophical differences remained intact, but for the most part it reflected a willingness among residents and governing officials to look beyond the personal needs and more toward the recovery of an entire community.
Much of the same approach has continued in the two years since the flood, but the same cannot be said for our nation as a whole.
The divisiveness of our government and its people has reached new heights -- or lows -- in recent years. An extremist mindset and less regard toward compromise has watered down the accomplishments of our leaders, and the people ultimately suffer the consequences.
We learned the importance of unity in a very painful way on Sept. 11, 2001. We also realized in the end, we are all Americans.
It should never take a tragedy for us to remember that we are, in name, the United States of America.