What September 11th Can Teach us About Diversity & Inclusion

Every year on September 11th we look back on the horrific events that shook our nation and forever changed us, when terrorists attacked our country, striking the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed. As time moves on, united by our patriotism, we have worked to heal, rebuild, and learn from this dark and tragic experience.

When I think back on September 11th, one theme comes to mind - the importance of diversity and inclusion. When our safety and security is threatened to the core, particularly in times of survival, hope springs from the ashes and is strengthened through our ability to unite as an inclusive unit working together. Many of the living heroes, still suffering and bearing the scars after working first response, rescue and recovery, will tell you that our differences were set aside during those dark days. Thousands of diverse contributors came together from many backgrounds, sacrificing and giving their all to support the victims and survivors.

Seventeen years later, we are now living in a time of increased security, but also polarized political views and strong dissent dividing friends, families, and colleagues. This tumultuous environment can strain the important values we place on diversity and inclusion – which is a critical thread for progress and innovation. Setting aside our political beliefs for the benefit of the message, in his passing, Senator John McCain’s farewell note delivered a strong statement on patriotism, diversity, and inclusion:

                 “Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves… We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe… believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

On September 11th, and in the years following, we transcended our differences to unite as stronger, patriotic Americans supporting the cause and ideals that founded our great nation. Let’s remember that we persevered by leaning on our diversity to find strength and rebuild together.