I remember wondering after 9/11 what the long term effects on the country would be. Would we pull together, or would we give in to hate and fear and the psychological side of this type of warfare? We've seen a lot of both in the intervening years.
We've seen the good, of brave servicemen and women giving their lives and doggedly serving multiple tours wherever their leaders sent them. We've seen good at home too. We've also seen times when the politics around this stuff got so toxic that it shut down our systems, and we see that toxicity in some of the politic rhetoric right now.
We should honor the lives lost on 9/11 and the subsequent wars by coming together more, treating each other and strangers more kindly, being mindful about the choices we make both politically and in our own communities, and choosing rationality over reaction. The USA has a good system of governance, albiet flawed, messy and dramatic, and we are a leader on the world stage. The things we say do have resonance. Our system has been flexible enough to bend to changing attitudes over time, and that's why it's stayed strong and grown better in a lot of ways. But there are also times in our history where a toxic, vocal group of people have temporarily made it worse.
Our system only works if we listen to the "better angels of our nature," as Lincoln put it. When we allow fear and hate to make our country toxic, the terrorists win. That is their way, not ours.