September 11th.  

A day of reflection for those affected by the events in 2001.  We often think of the time and place where we first learned of the event.  What we were wearing. The fear in the face of the person that let us know.  The feeling of horror and sadness as we watched the planes crash into the towers.  The heartbreak delivered with the follow on news of the Pentagon and United Flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania.  A collective pain that created a day equal to Pearl Harbor. A day that will live in infamy.

Since September 11th, 2001, there have been countless days of sadness.  More lives lost. More families ruined. All born out of anger and revenge.  Is it possible to relieve that sadness?  It is.  If you're truly being American.

Symbolism has significance for our nation.  When we think of America, two symbols often come to mind:  The American Flag and the Great Seal of the United States.

Found from a book about the symbolism of the American Flag published in 1977 by the House of Representatives, "The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun."  The alternating in red and white, the 13 stripes also represent the 13 original colonies that joined together to declare their independence from Britain in order to establish themselves as a sovereign nation.

The Great Seal of the United States, and eagle holding a bundle of 13 arrows in its left talon (referring to the 13 original states), and an olive branch in its right talon, together symbolizing that the United States has "a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war."  In its beak, the eagle clutches a scroll with the motto E pluribus unum ("Out of Many, One").

In both cases, the symbolism of the United States aims toward divinity, unity, and peace.  While you’re reflecting today on America and its greatness in the face of tragedy, please take a few moments to consider how American you actually are.  

Are you aiming toward divine goodness?  Working to build connection between communities?  Demonstrating actions that show a preference for peace?  

Or are you trolling each other on social media behind the guise of patriotism?  Assaulting people for disrespecting of the flag? Or any of the other multitude of offenses that drive anger on a daily basis?

Are you being an American?  

If so, then today of all days--demonstrate a preference for peace.  Lead in a manner that brings many together as one.

Extend the olive branch.

Matthew Griffin