COMMENTARY: Where were you on 9/11?

Where were you on 9/11, when our world came tumbling down?

Where were you on 9/11, at 8:45 a.m., when we saw the flames of hate consume the heart and soul of a nation, and ignite the embers of suspicion, doubt, distrust and cynicism around the world?

Where were you on 9/11, when our humanity and our nobility were buried beneath the ashes of our shattered dreams?

We were a nation in the throes of growing, learning and evolving. A nation reaching for the stars, wanting to capture a flitting glimpse of heaven. We were ordinary men and women, wondering how to lasso the moon, so that it could always follow us and light our way. We were a nation of dreamers, seeking to find and forever feel and remember a love that will outlast all of time. We were a nation united by hope and by the passion of our heritage and our legacy.

On 9/11 I was dreaming. I was dreaming of yesterdays and of tomorrows. I was imaging the unimaginable, thinking of the impossible, and living the moment.

We were all Americans on 9/11. Immigrants from around the world — ordinary human beings of every color, every religion, every political persuasion — coming together, like catchers in the wild — gathering, storing and sharing the riches that we reaped, the treasures that we found and the bounties that we sowed. We were, back then, the dream catchers of those who once had suffered, struggled and imagined a better life in a better place. We were, on 9/11, the legacy of dreams. We were the embodiment of hope, not only for this evolving nation but for the world. And like unbridled children, running in fields of unfinished dreams, we were the guardians of the treasures of our past, and the guiding light for those seeking to help fulfill the destiny of unfulfilled dreams of forgotten lives in long-abandoned and neglected gardens of decaying headstones and dried-out vestiges of tears and sorrow.

And on 9/11, in a moment that has forever scarred the reflection of our humanity, we awoke to the reality of the world around us. We found ourselves confronted with the evil that surrounds us and the depravity that thrives in the heart of men.

And nothing has ever been the same.

Our unity, however weak or however splintered or cracked as it may have been, now totally derailed and divided. Communities divided by race, religion, cultures and politics. Our security and our confidence eroded by the incompetence of leadership, and by the fading courage and diluted resolve of our leaders at every level, and by institutions devoid of character, decency and ethics.

We now find ourselves in a time and space once filled with hope, with inspiration and with the passion of our great heritage and legacy, but now withering with despair and the constant bombardment of lies, disinformation, misinformation and outright assaults on our dignity and our nobility. The shadows of 9/11 linger on.

The shadows of that dark and ominous moment of 9/11 keep growing, and counterfeit patriots keep adding fuel to the smoldering ashes left behind, by refusing to look in the mirror and see the face of evil and hate that may stare back at them.

And through all that was and now is, many of us still see ourselves as the vessels that hold the essence of all that was and all that will ever be. For we are the unending dream that grows and thrives beyond the confines of the human heart or fragile soul. We are the dream catchers that still believe in the greatness of America, as it once was, and as it should be.

Where were you on 9/11?

Al Garcia lives in Palm Valley.