Alonzo Weston

It’s been just 18 years, but Sept. 11, 2001, seems so long ago. The unity we felt as Americans after the terrorist attack that killed nearly 3,000 people showed our country at its best in the face of the worst.

We were all in it together — black, white, brown, man, woman, Republican or Democrat. We just identified as Americans.

The news the day before and day of the attacks showed life as normal. People still were picking up debris and tree limbs from a Friday windstorm. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 27 to 10 the Sunday before. Lafayette High School won its first football game in two years, defeating Smithville 33 to 18.

A group of city residents called One Voice United joined together in a movement against city government.

I walked into the newsroom the morning of 9/11 to see City Editor Steve Booher watching the first tower attack on one of the TV monitors. It wasn’t long after when another plane hit the second tower.

What I thought would be a routine news day covering local events turned into a busy one with me traveling to the Kansas City airport for interviews and covering clergy gatherings in St. Joseph. We even put out a special edition.

Today as we celebrate Patriot Day to honor the memory of the people who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, we’ve also lost the unity we had.

It’s a shame that it took a tragedy to bring us together and unite us. At least we did unite. We have a tragedy today with homegrown terrorists and mass shootings, but instead of uniting we turn it into a fight about gun control and immigrants.

Then-president George W. Bush, for all his faults and shortcomings, did his best to unite the country, not turn us against each other. Today it seems we have a president who revels in national discord and upheaval. To him, the enemy is the national press, as he employed a network of conservative operatives to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to him by publicizing damaging information about journalists.

George W. caught plenty of heat from news outlets for some of his decisions during his White House tenure. Many people thought him dumb and unqualified for the job even causing an unnecessary war.

But never did he resort to vicious tweet attacks and outright crudeness. I remember at the time we wanted a moral leader because to many voters the previous president, Bill Clinton, was mortally bankrupt with infidelities and other dubious incidents. Today those infractions and worse get a pass, it seems, by many, even some churches.

We have people claiming they suffered eight years under President Barack Obama, but when questioned about it they can’t tell you how they suffered. He saved the economy. He orchestrated the attack and capture of Bin Laden, the real person responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

If that’s suffering, we need more if it. People claimed Obama divided the country, but the only way he did was by the color of his skin. Some people did not like having a black president. So if he’s to blame, it’s for exposing that then-latent prejudice.

Many of us celebrated the end of racism with Obama’s election, but in reality it just exposed it.

But I digress somewhat. What we really need is to be the America we are supposed to be. Not taking it back to anywhere but moving it somewhere better forward together.

Alonzo Weston can be reached


Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.