Fifteen years ago today a heinous act by Islamic terrorist hijackers succeeded in bringing down the World Trade Center Twin Towers ... but failed in bringing down our country.
The tragic events of that awful day in New York City, and at the Pentagon, and in that otherwise anonymous field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania were meant to bring America to her knees. And sure enough, many Americans did take to their knees -- in prayer -- filling churches across the country.
But that was only one way the attacks failed in their intent.
In the hard days and months after those multiple acts of terrorism, America did not show fear but great courage. Young people answered a call to national service. People of all ages felt a kinship to each other -- as Americans.
Those acts meant to sow division instead brought us closer together as a nation than any time I've seen during my lifetime.
Those murderers, you see, killed white Americans. black Americans. Asian Americans. Hispanic Americans. They killed Christian Americans. Jewish Americans. Muslim Americans, Hindu Americans. Those murders killed in the name of their god some Americans who believed there is no God.
We all felt loss. We all grieved.
And in the aftermath of that attack, in the wake of our shared grief, there was a palpable unity throughout this land. There was suddenly in this troubled and divided country something bigger and more important than ourselves that brought us all together for a short time.
Americans had been attacked. Killed. Murdered.
We didn't delineate. We didn't hyphenate. All of those victims were simply Americans to us.
And suddenly the fabric of a country woven by people from different lands, political parties, colors, ethnicities and religious bents seemed to pull tighter. America was strengthened.
Where has that gone? What happened to that America?
Today is Sept. 11, 2016. It is the anniversary of that fateful, memorable, sad, emotional day. And today the NFL will kick off another season.
And because the NFL is now so much a part of what America is, it suffers violent convulsions to its inner core much the same way the country does. In that regard, the NFL is very much like America. The NFL, our national sport, is uniquely American.
The NFL's most important employees -- its players -- are predominantly black. Yes, there are other races and peoples represented in the NFL ranks, but let us agree black men dominate the NFL on the field if not yet in the board rooms and owners' suites.
And because so many of the league's biggest stars come from a portion of our society that has unquestionably seen violence perpetrated on people that look like them, there is outrage in locker rooms across the NFL as there is outrage in black households across America.
That cannot be diminished. That cannot be dismissed. That is a troubling fact of life in today's America.
So something needs to happen for that needless killing of a people to stop.
I don't have the answer for stopping the killing of some black people at the hands of some police.
The President, who is black, also doesn't have the answer. The Federal Justice Department, headed by a black woman, has not brought one indictment on any officer, deeming every shooting it has so far investigated as lawful so that department also does not have an answer. The black district attorney in Baltimore who failed to get even one conviction of the officers that arrested Freddie Gray on the day he died while in custody obviously does not have the answer.
And, sorry to say it, but it is the truth, no NFL player wearing any uniform today has the answer for solving this obvious issue. And no NFL player is going to fix the problem today.
No matter what.
There is nothing any NFL player in or out of uniform today will be able to say or do that will address the issue of some rogue policeman shooting somebody to the point a solution for that problem is found. Can we agree on that?
No amount of protesting today will fix the problem. No amount of speaking about the issue at press conferences afterward games today will fix the problem. No amount of symbolic gestures today will fix this problem.
And yet, somewhere around this league, it is likely that some NFL player will think it incumbent upon himself to make a gesture, or not stand for the national anthem, or make some other personal protest to bring awareness to the issue.
I have news for those who think that way: That will not bring any good awareness to your cause. None.
Any NFL player using today to protest by somehow disrespecting the flag, the country, his team or some of his fans will be doing the cause he holds dear a disservice.
I can tell you that the united post-Sept. 11 America of 2001 no longer exists. We are a divided country one again. We are divided on issues of race, politics, religion, abortion, sexuality, gender, you name it. And we are united on the idea that police are systematically targeting black people for elimination or, at the very least, different treatment than whites.
And so I can guarantee any player undertaking a protest today -- on the anniversary of 9-11 -- that your message about violence or oppression or whatever will be drowned out by those that see your protest as disrespect for the flag and the country on a date that marks for so many a day of violence against all Americans.
To those men considering a protest today, I ask you to consider what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes:
"There is a time for everything,
"and a season for every purpose under the heavens;
"a time to be born and a time to die;
"a time to plant and a time to uproot;
"a time to kill and a time to heal;
"a time to tear down and a time to build up;
"a time to weep and a time to laugh;
"a time to mourn and a time to dance;
"a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them;
"a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
"a time to get and a time to lose;
"a time to keep and a time to cast away;
"a time to tear and a time to mend;"
"a time to be silent and a time to speak;
"a time to love and a time to hate;
"a time for war and a time for peace."
Friends, NFL players, everyone, the September 11 anniversary is not a time for internal war. It is not a time to inspire hate. This is not the time to fight. This is not the time to tear down. Your time may come but not today.
This day is not about you.
It is not about your cause, whatever your cause may be -- and this applies to everybody. This day, in my humble opinion, should be about the solemn and sobering rememberance of those who went to work that morning and never came home that evening; ones that got on planes that never landed; those who's lives were violently snuffed out or changed forever.
Acknowledging this, accepting this does not weaken anyone. It doesn't lessen anyone. Indeed, it shows strength to show respect to those who deserve it.
Today is about the Americans who fell on that day 15 years ago -- some of them first responders, sure, but also accountants and secretaries and interns and executives and realtors and civilian government workers. Today is about the victims. Today is about the Americans who served or lost their lives in the years after 9-11 directly because of what happened on 9-11.
Maybe if for one day, albeit 15 years later, we can agree what today should be about we can take the small first step toward addressing our issues and solving our problems. Maybe we can take a step toward becoming that united America again.