Even with our country and counties polarized to extents few of have witnessed in recent times, an opportunity arises this weekend to bypass differences, even if only for a single day.

Saturday will mark 20 years since terrorists attacked our nation, two decades since a new generation of Americans awoke to the realization that such violence could, and would, happen on U.S. soil.

But far from splintering and dividing our nation, as terrorists surely hoped would happen, Americans at that time galvanized their faith, their hope, their actions in displays of unification from sea to shining sea. Indeed, many of those stories are presented as a retrospective of those actions in the pages of today’s newspaper.

A generation later, that unification is resurrected on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, but in rare circumstances at other times — and typically only during moments of extreme adversary. Must it be that it takes a 9/11, horrific natural disasters, mass violence or scandals of national proportions to remind us of America’s earliest roots?

Yet even today, we can have faith and hope — and act for better.

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Tom Mayer is the executive editor of Mountain Times Publications, a group of five news newspapers, six websites and one monthly periodical in the High Country of North Carolina.

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