As a nation, we are tired, depressed, divided. We yell, we criticize, we label. We languish in silos, with closed minds and deaf ears, while shouting obscenities at those who think differently, act differently, and most definitely ARE different. Compromise is no longer a viable action; it has been replaced by unyielding resistance, skepticism and stoic determination. Yes, as a nation, we are tired.
America, we can do better; we must do better. Alabama, for the sake of all of us, our neighbors and the future of our state, we simply HAVE to do better. We owe it to each other. We owe it to the thousands of individuals who have selflessly served and continue to serve our nation. And, we definitely owe it to those who died on September 11, 2001 and to those who, following the horror and chaos, valiantly volunteered to protect all of us – without any thought to what divides us.
Do you remember how we, as a devastated and wounded country, shelved our many differences and experiences in unity to defend, protect and extol our incredible nation? And now, twenty years later, as we toil through distrust, discourse and a pandemic, we need to stop. We need to remember and honor those who died, volunteered and ran into the abyss to shield us, ALL of us, from the unknown enemy attacking our country. Through all of our many cracks and fusions, they should always be the reason, the symbol, the reminder to all of us to return to decency – to be thankful that we live in a nation without boundaries, restrictions or punishments, even when we are behaving at our worst, even as we address injustices – past and current.
Alabama, proudly wave the American flag on this solemn 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, and recognize that even though we are flawed, it stands to symbolize all of us – red, white & blue. It continues to wave in spite of our imperfections, and it continues to be a beacon to the world, even when the world isn’t watching. Most importantly, it continues to represent the freedom of thought, expression and action for each one of us, no matter what we think, where we stand or how we behave. May we all recognize its symbolic power of creating unity and loyalty to a common good by remembering those who died simply because they lived and worked in our incredible country, blemishes and all.
September 11, 2021
We Stand Strong
Dr. Henry Panion III, an extraordinary composer, arranger, conductor and educator, was a member of Leadership Alabama’s Class XII, which was in Huntsville at the Redstone Arsenal during the week of the attack. As he recently noted in an email to some fellow classmates, “This week we will see many images and hear many stories from that horrific day. Thus, I thought I’d re-share my song, “We Stand Strong,” with you. And, as I laid across my hotel bed on the Friday night of the retreat, watching TV coverage of people walking the streets of New York looking for their lost loved ones, the words and melody of the song just seem to come from nowhere…yet, everywhere.
We invite you to download a high-res copy of the score to the song, as well as the recording of the song by former Birmingham Police Chief Annetta Nunn.