On July 3 of this year, I was visiting my grandparents on their small farm in Southwest Kansas. It is somewhat of a family tradition to visit their small public zoo that contains the mediocre grandeur that would be expected from such an establishment.
We ventured out into the park on a still, hot afternoon, droning with a rhythmic chorus of cicadas. We traveled from exhibit to exhibit until we came to the bald eagle enclosure.
We stopped here, astonished to see the huge eagle lying on the ground nearly motionless with its feet in the air.
The only movement we saw was the bird’s futile pecking at the many flies attacking a large, open wound, which we later learned had become infected the week before.
She tried to flap the insects away, but her condition simply wouldn’t allow her to move.
Eventually, I found a zookeeper and told her that the eagle was dying.
The next day, Independence Day, we learned she had died from infection at the old age of 30.
I couldn’t help but compare the imagery to 2016, a year of despair in the realm of politics.
An eagle being attacked by flies and infection is an apt representation of the status of our nation.
From within, America bears the infection of division. Externally, America suffers from the blows of degenerate enemies, predators who under other circumstances would be prey. However, ultimately, it was the internal infection that caused her death.
The year 2016, like 1860, has proved that there is no greater danger to America than a disunited United States.
Too many politicians, public figures and citizens have sown division, making themselves the dangerous bacteria of America’s sickness.
To me, the remedy for this disunity is rooted in my earliest memory: 9/11.
The nation’s response to the terror attacks represents the noblest symbol of American unity.
Somehow, a common American resolve was decided amidst the smoke of the Pentagon. Meanwhile, a uniting movement sprang from the cabin of Flight 93 above the fields of Pennsylvania, as a faith in one another was forged in the fires of the Twin Towers.
Today, we all need faith in one another.
My mother and I always tell each other when voicing these fears for America that a few months after 9/11, there were no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans.
Americans from all walks of life, all parties and all national backgrounds grieved the loss of their fellow Americans.
Each time a survivor was pulled from the rubble or a victim was released from the hospital, we celebrated as a nation.
I see unity in another image from 9/11.
That afternoon, I walked out of the house and heard an elderly neighbor playing taps on his trumpet.
That is what unity looks like.
There, in a small cul-de-sac thousands of miles from Ground Zero, my young eyes witnessed American solidarity.
American unity starts at the lowest level in our interactions, our neighborhoods, our residence halls and our schools.
It’s time to turn our eyes from the drama of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the intimacy of Main Street.
The hope of the American dream isn’t found in the oval office, but in the faces of our loved ones. That filial bond is the rock upon which the union is built. Let the antiquated cry of “Union Forever” be once again chanted as “Unity Forever.”
Reclaiming America’s former glory begins with our individual choices to be paradoxically dependent upon one another.
Don’t just beg God for deliverance; ask Him for the strength to love and the hope to carry on.
America needs both.