MatchBack Monday: September 11

Saturday afternoon. A grocery store. I’m lost in thought in the produce aisle.

A man approaches.

“Hello,” he ventures. More of a question than a statement.

Ugh. Doesn’t he know that I’m trying to determine whether I’ve got the cilantro or the flat leaf parsley in hand?

I return with a tight smile, “Hello.”

He hesitates. Doesn’t speak. Doesn’t move.

What does he want?

Piqued, I briefly glance up from my leafy green dilemma.

He looks nervous. Earnest. Really, he looks as if he is going to tell me that my puppy died. But I don’t have a puppy.

I soften, “Yes?”

He recently lost his job. Was having trouble feeding his family. Could I help him buy some groceries?

I’ll be honest. I’m a distrustful person. My internal dialogue immediately began to tick off the cynical excuses why I shouldn’t, and the flimsy excuses for why I couldn’t.

But they were just that, excuses.

There is a pre-Revolution song written by one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, John Dickinson. In it he entreats, “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”

Now I know Dickinson stood on the monumental precipice of rebellion when he wrote “The Liberty Song”, but 248 years later, somewhere between the frozen pizza and Lean Cuisine, the spirit of his words struck me.

I wasn’t going to let this man fall. I joined hands with him, so to speak, to help provide his family with a hot meal and some provisions for the week.

The how, where, why, and when of Dickinson’s call will change. But the strength found in answering that call will never diminish.

Hurricane Harvey.

By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.

Hurricane Irma.

By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.

September 11.

By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.

Today’s a somber day, punctuating what has been an incredibly devastating few weeks. But take heart. We are Americans. When we need each other, we stand together. As our thoughts turn to aiding those affected by the hurricanes, and our prayers remember those lost in 9/11, Dickinson’s words resonate within us all.

We are united and we will not fall.