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Sports: Men’s and women’s soccer win games

A&E: Museum kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month

Opinion: Sept. 11 reminds us of nation’s fragile unity

Monday, Sept. 20, 2021

Vol. 54 No. 3

Saginaw Valley State University’s student newspaper

POLICE BRIEFS Police briefs are written based on reports from University Police. They indicate preliminary descriptions of events and not necessarily actual incidents.

Suspicious Situation On Sept. 2 at 4:00 P.M. a female student walked into the university police department to report vehicle damage. She thought the damage occurred in parking lot G3. It is unknown where the damage occurred. Criminal justice senior Joley Hoyt talks to prospective high school student about SVSU college life. Vanguard Photo Editor | Brooke Elward

On Sept. 13 at 1:15 A.M. a student reported suspicious situations on behalf of his friend who wished to remain anonymous. Another student had been entering other students’ rooms without knocking and then acting strange while in the room. These suspicious situations happened on Sept. 4, Sept. 9 and Sept. 13. The incident remains under investigation.

Suspicious Person On Sept. 9 at 11:19 P.M. an anonymous person observed a subject outside the living centers recording students while they changed. Officers checked all living centers for a subject matching the description and were unable to locate the person. On Sept. 13 at 3:25 P.M. Zahnow Library reported a suspicious male. The male was recognized by library staff as a male who had been in the library in the past allegedly taking pictures of females. Officers contacted the male outside of Science East where he refused to identify himself and stated he did not have identification. Officers told him to leave campus.

Noise Complaint

SVSU holds Cardinal College Day Connor Rousseau


Vanguard Reporter

ardinal College Days are held every year to encourage students to find out what SVSU is all about. This fall, students got that experience on Sept. 18. Anyone with a possible interest in SVSU was welcomed and given a tour of campus and the different housing facilities. They also got to speak with a professor from their chosen major as well as a financial aid representative and enjoy lunch in the Marketplace. Finally, they had the opportunity to talk with a representative about what student life at SVSU was all about as well as the various support services offered on campus. Assistant Director of Freshmen Operations Carmen Stricker is now in her tenth year working for SVSU and helped orchestrate the event. She also provided some insight into what SVSU could offer students who chose to become cardinals. Stricker acknowledged that as society navigates its way back to normal, covid guidelines and university mandates may not be the same at every institution. She

said that this makes public outreach more important than ever. “By constantly reaching out through various means of communication, we are able to offer that information to the community to let them know we are open for visits and have implemented safety procedures to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and safe visit,” she said. Stricker also said that after an entire school year under the shadow of the pandemic, students are ready for a change of scenery. “With so many school districts offering only virtual instruction for most of the 20-21 academic year, many students are craving in-person interactions and experiences like we have always been able to offer our students,” she said. “But we are now finding modified ways to ensure the health and safety of our campus community while doing so.” Cardinal College Day also showcases to the public the unique qualities SVSU has to offer as well as the people who define it. “Students always comment about how friendly and personable their tour guide is and how they are able to share a vast

amount of knowledge about many aspects of SVSU,” she said. “They like hearing about the personal attention they receive. We hope that a student and their family will remember a sense of belonging, that they can envision themselves joining the Cardinal Family and being a successful, thriving student.” Stricker said that SVSU also stands out among other institutions because of its status as the most affordable four-year institution in the state of Michigan as well as its rating as the number-one public university in the entire nation when it comes to dorm rooms. “We offer world class programs and career path opportunities, all while packaged in a modern university setting,” Stricker said. Stricker said that while there are several ways to measure the success of Cardinal College Day, the most important element is the people who chose to attend. “Our hope is that students and families have a better idea of what it would be like to be a part of the Cardinal Family and that they leave with no questions unanswered,” she said.

Students show their gratitude at Thankful Thursday

On Sept. 4 at 10:05 P.M. a local resident wanted to file a complaint in the university police department. His complaint was about the noise level of the football game. His information was obtained, and the complaint was turned over to campus communications.

Marijuana On Sept. 8 at 4:27 P.M. a dining services employee called officers to the Cardinal Café. The employee found a rolled marijuana joint laying on the ground near Subway. The marijuana was returned to the university police department and disposed of. On Sept. 8 at 4:45 P.M. a male student walked in the university police department. The student handed the dispatcher an unopened foil envelope containing about 7 grams of marijuana. The student advised that he found it laying on the sidewalk outside complex A. The marijuana was disposed of.

Lost Property On Sept. 9 at 11:51 P.M. a nonstudent entered the university police department to report that several personal items had mistakenly been placed in the wrong vehicle and are missing. A few items have been recovered but others are still missing.

Alayna Houghten (left), Jocelyn Metz (middle), and Aysha Henderson (right) help to thank SVSU’s donors. Vanguard Photographer | Audrey Bergey

Audrey Bergey Vanguard Photographer

Forever Red kicked off its first Thankful Thursday event on Sept. 16 in the president’s courtyard. The theme for this event was “we are thankful for our campus.” Students were encouraged to join in on a campus wide scavenger hunt. Those who completed the scavenger by the end of the day, Sunday, will be entered to win prizes. Many students stopped by to take a minute to be thankful and walk around campus to finish the scavenger hunt. “This Thankful Thursday event was very successful,” Macy Docken, vice president of enhance for forever red said. “We had a good turnout at the table sit and loved to watch students participate in the event.”

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In the past, Forever Red had always given thanks to our SVSU students, staff and faculty in the month of November. “With so much in life to be thankful for, Forever Red decided to expand on the event and make it a year-round,” Docken said. “At SVSU, some of the things we are thankful for include campus, friends, family, community, health, and much more.” Forever Red decided to expand on the usual November event and turned it into a year-round event for the academic year 2021-2022. There are three more Thankful Thursdays to expect this semester. “Next month, the thankful Thursday event will highlight how we are thankful for friends,” Docken said. “Forever Red is going to partner with Valley Nights to host a friendship move night.” Students can expect to make friend-

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ship bracelets, eat some popcorn, and take photos at the photo booth. The film being featured will be “Luca.” Now that Thankful Thursday is an event that will happen year round, much planning went into organizing each monthly theme. “We are partnering with a variety of RSO’s and offices on campus to make these events the best they can be,” Docken said. Forever Red encourages others to help and join their Thankful Thursday committee by emailing at svsufr@svsu. edu. Students can follow Forever Red on Instagram @svsuforeverred for updates on Thankful Thursday events throughout the semester. The next Thankful Thursday event will take place next month on Thursday, Oct. 28.


Page A2 | Monday, Sept. 20, 2021 | | The Valley Vanguard

Football takes Ferris to overtime, loses 47-45 Denver Milam


Vanguard Sports Editor

fter losing to Bowie State on the road in week two the Cardinals looked to right the ship in their next game, a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference (GLIAC) matchup against the number two team in the country Ferris State. Head coach Ryan Brady was ready for the challenge of Ferris State. “We’re excited to head into league play this week and begin our journey to fight for a GLIAC Championship,” Brady said. “We have a great opportunity to compete against one of the nation’s top teams this week in Ferris State.” Brady also likes having a game closer to SVSU than the previous matchup in Maryland. “Baltimore, Maryland was quite the road,” Brady said. “But, if we are not at the beautiful Harvey Randall Wickes, then it still feels like a road game; 3 out of the next 4 are on the road and we have a lot of work to be done.”

SVSU’s defense started the game strong by forcing a punt on Ferris State’s first possession and junior defensive back Noah Suber blocking an extra point. Sophomore defensive back Michael Woolridge returned the blocked extra point the length of the field to score two points for the Cardinals. On SVSU’s next possession they were able to drive down the field and junior kicker Connor Luksic converted a 27-yard field goal attempt to help the Cardinals close the gap now trailing 6-5. Luksic was called on again during the following SVSU as he again was able to convert a 26-yard field goal to take the 8-6 lead. Ferris State regained the lead following a touchdown, and after forcing a punt from SVSU they turned the ball over to the Cardinals 21 yards from the endzone. Following an interception by the Cardinals offense led to Suber getting a pick six touchdown with seven minutes left in the half to give SVSU the 15-13 lead. On the ensuing Bulldog possession senior linebacker Xavier Abraham was able to force a fumble that was recovered by Woolridge.

After the next three possessions between the two teams led to no more points getting added to the board, Ferris State was able to score a touchdown with five seconds remaining in the half. SVSU began the second half with the ball, trailing by a score of 20-15. Junior quarterback Matt Considine threw a 63-yard pass to senior tight end Isaiah Johnson-Mack, setting up a third Luksic field goal. Following two touchdowns and two missed extra points by the Bulldogs, SVSU was trailing 32-18 with 9:45 left in the third quarter. Senior running back Tommy Scott started to see more success on the ground, as he was able to score a touchdown to bring SVSU within seven points. Redshirt freshman Victor Nelson forced a fumble that was recovered by senior linebacker Victor Abraham. Following the fumble, Scott scored his second touchdown of the game and Luksic connected on his extra point to tie the game at 32. Following a Ferris State touchdown with 45 seconds left the Cardinals were able to

manufacture an eight-play touchdown drive to tie the score as time expired. In overtime Ferris State scored a touchdown on the first possession following an SVSU penalty on third down. Another SVSU penalty on the extra point allowed Ferris State to try again after missing on the initial try. After the penalty, Ferris State decided to go for two and was successful, stretching their lead to 47-39. Two penalties against Ferris State helped the Cardinals score on their possession, but a failed two-point conversion secured the 47-45 win for the Bulldogs. Coach Brady looks forward to his team continuing to grow and learn through diversity. “Moving forward, we need to continue to have a growth mindset and embrace the process every day,” Brady said. “Every day is an opportunity to compete, prepare, and learn from past experiences; our younger players will continue to have to grow up fast.” Saginaw Valley plays the next game on Sept. 25 at Wayne State in their second GLIAC match of the season.

Volleyball splits opening weekend in GLIAC Denver Milam Vanguard Sports Editor

After starting its season 8-0 the Saginaw Valley State University volleyball team started its play in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference (GLIAC) matchups on Sept. 17 against Northwood University. Head coach Will Stanton enjoys the success but want the players and fans to remain realistic. “It is nice to be 8-0 to start our Conference Schedule, but we are realistic in knowing that the level of competition that we were facing in these Preseason Tournaments is not the level that we will be facing in the GLIAC,” Stanton said. “Our Conference opponents will have more weapons and more consistency than what we have faced so far. But it helps our confidence to know we can find ways to win in each of these 8 matches

so far.” In their Sept. 17 match, the Cardinals faced their first real struggles of the season. SVSU was able to get out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set during the serving of sophomore middle hitter Olivia Waszak. After extending their lead to 17-12, the Cardinals were unable to remain consistent to finish the set and fell 25-21. During the second set it was a back-andforth affair between the two sides. Once Northwood took the 12-10 lead they did not look back as they were able to win the set 25-23. In the final set SVSU fell behind early 149. Despite the efforts to come back, the Cardinals fell short and lost the set 25-22. Northwood took the match by a score of 3-0, handing Saginaw Valley its first loss of the season. SVSU continued GLIAC play with a

match against Lake Superior State University on Sept. 18 at O’Neill arena in University Center, MI. Freshman outside hitter Madison Thompson led the Cardinals with 13 kills in the match to help push them to victory. Senior middle hitter Haley Clum added six kills while sophomore hitter Rylee Zimmer added five more. Neither team was able to build a substantial lead during the early portion of the first set with SVSU leading 11-10. Waszak’s serving helped push the Cardinals to a 16-11 lead as they were able to finish the first set with a 25-19 win. In the second set it was more of the same from both teams. Saginaw Valley was leading 9-8 before they were able to step on the gas for a 17-10 lead. Lake Superior State tried to fight its way back, but SVSU was able to win 25-22.

Throughout the whole third set neither side was able to build more than a twopoint lead until Saginaw Valley was able to take a 19-16 lead. Saginaw was able to hang onto the set and win 25-20, earning the three sets to zero sweep. SVSU’s win pushed their record to 9-1 on the season and 1-1 in GLIAC play. Coach Stanton hopes that the team’s success can continue. “We would obviously like to continue the winning into the GLIAC matches, and the more success we have - the more we build our confidence and gain the trust that will carry us through the really tough matches ahead,” Stanton said. Saginaw Valley will continue its season on Sept. 24 in Indiana against Purdue Northwest followed by a Sept. 25 matchup with Parkside in Wisconsin.

Hot start continues for women’s soccer Denver Milam Vanguard Sports Editor

Freshman midfielder Stephanie Strong continued her fast start to the season by scoring her fourth goal of the season en route to a Cardinals 2-0 win. Head coach Michael O’Neill likes the addition of Strong this season. “Strong has been a great addition to the squad this Fall,” O’Neill said. “We did not expect her to be scoring as many goals as she has been so that is just a huge bonus for us.” O’Neill wants Strong to continue to focus on her work ethic going forward. “I will be the first to remind her that her

work ethic and toughness are most valuable to us right now, she has been relentless in every sense of the word and defenders hate playing against her,” O’Neill said. After a slow start against Ohio Dominican on Sept. 12, SVSU found its footing near the end of the first half. During the 42nd minute of the game Strong was able to find the back of the net on an assist from freshman midfielder Gabby Green. Saginaw Valley carried the 1-0 lead into halftime and did not look back. Sophomore forward Jensen Taylor scored her first goal of the season in the 73rd minute after a pass from freshman

forward Reegan Kingpavong. SVSU was able to hold on and win 2-0 to continue its unbeaten season with a record of 3-0-1. Senior goalkeeper Olivia Argeros saved the only shot that she faced during the game and was able to earn a clean sheet. Saginaw Valley continued its season on Sept. 19 at Davenport to start the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference (GLIAC) schedule. O’Neill wants his team to reset their mindset going into GLIAC play. “Now we turn our attention to the GLIAC season which for us is always our number one priority,” O’Neill said. “Our form coming into conference play will help us

but we know this is almost a new season where everyone is once again 0-0-0.” O’Neill also knows it has been important for his team to get off to their hot start this season. “It’s been extremely important to get off to a good start,” O’Neill said. “Not only to build confidence within the group but those regional games hold a lot of weight when it comes to postseason selection criteria. We are glad we have those wins in the bank.” SVSU will continue its season on Sept. 24 against Northern Michigan and Sept. 26 against Michigan Tech. Both games will be played at Braddock Field on SVSU’s campus.

Men’s soccer wins in first GLIAC match of the season Denver Milam Vanguard Sports Editor

After starting the season winning its first three matches, Saginaw Valley men’s soccer was set to face Lake Erie on Sept. 12 at Tiffin University. Lake Erie got the scoring started early with a goal in the third minute of the game. There was only one issue with such an early goal; no one was able to score for the 87 following minutes. After senior goalkeeper Mason Maziasz allowed the goal, he was able to stop the only other shot from the Storm’s players. Saginaw Valley had 13 shots on goal over the course of the game but were unable to find the back of the net with any of them. Nearing the end of the first half, an errant pass by the Storm almost resulted in an own goal but the goalie Tomas Wroblewski was able to save it before it crossed the line. Senior midfielder Danny Barlow led the Cardinals attack with six shots on goal during the match. Junior midfielder Brady Walker, senior midfielder Robbie Bruce and senior midfielder Gabriello Calamita all added two shots each. SVSU fell 1-0 for its first regular season loss since the 2019 season. Returning home on Sept. 17 the Cardinals

looked to avenge their loss in a matchup with Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference (GLIAC) opponent Northern Michigan University. Maziasz was able to secure a clean sheet in the match by saving all three shots he faced over the course of 90 minutes. Barlow scored the first goal for the Cardinals in the sixth minute of the game. This goal came after a cross from sophomore midfielder Robbie Baker. In the 17th minute senior midfielder Alex Gloshen found the back of the net to extend SVSU’s lead to 2-0. Freshman defender Benjamin Adamson and Baker were credited with assists on the play. After a turnover by Northern Michigan in the box, Walker was able to score to push Saginaw Valley ahead 3-0 in the 22nd minute of the game. For the remaining 68 minutes of the game a goal was not scored by either side with the final score leading to an SVSU 3-0 win. SVSU’s win pushed its record to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in GLIAC play. Saginaw Valley continued its season with a home game against GLIAC opponent Parkside. On Sept. 24 the Cardinals will travel to play Upper Iowa followed by a Sept. 26 meeting with St. Cloud St., both being GLIAC matchups.

Defense Benjamin Adamson slide tackles the opposing team. Vanguard Photo Editor | Brooke Elward

The Valley Vanguard Sports Editor Denver Milam | E-mail | Office 989-964-4482 | Instagram @TheValleyVanguard 110A Curtiss Hall


The Valley Vanguard | | Monday, Sept. 20, 2021 | Page A3

MFSM celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Rebekah Williams


Vanguard Reporter

aturday, Sept. 18, The Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum hosted its kickoff event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. The free event took place from 1-4 p.m. at the museum’s garden. Both students and local residents joined in the festivities. Joannah L. Lodico, the museum’s community engagement catalyst said she was most excited to see the Great Lakes Bay Region community come together to learn and grow. The event took place in partnership with NEA Big Read Great Lakes Bay Region for the Community Read Project. The Community Read Project comes from the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program which is done in partnership with the Hemlock Semiconductor Community and Regional Empowerment Fund, the Bay Area Community Foundation, the Saginaw Community Foundation and the Midland Area Community Foundation. “This is the first time we are hosting a Big Read Program in the Great Lakes Bay Region,” Lodico said. The organizations involved selected the book “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. Free copies of the book were available to attendees at the event. Throughout the coming year, the museum will be hosting book discussions on this story and encouraging attendees to take a copy of the book so that they can be a part of those discussions. More book distribution sites can be found at, The event was themed for Hispanic Heritage Month and included a Mariachi band. David Chantaca and Rosanne M. Chantaca, a father-daughter duo, played music for the event and discussed the history of Mariachi to the event guests. The food, catered by SVSU’s Conference and Events Center, prepared a menu of Elote en Vaso (Mexican street corn cups), Mini Tamale Torta and Skewers Al Pastor. Additionally, there were all kinds of other

Mariachi singers perform in the MFSM sculpture garden for the kick-off to Hispanic heritage month. Vanguard Photo Editor | Brooke Elward activities happening at the event, including decor and sand sculpture activities, as well as a station for attendees to record their stories of “Mi casa, Su casa,” telling both the good and bad stories of their neighborhoods. An important part of the Big Read Project is to build a portrait of the region with these recorded stories of neighborhoods.

“The grant period will occur from September 2021 to June 2022,” Andrea Ondish, the curator of education for The Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum said. “All three counties will coordinate their own programming that will include a kickoff event, book distributions for ‘The House on Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros, book discussions, children’s

book reads and art activities, a public art project and the collection and sharing of stories of community members in various formats.” If you were unable to attend and are interested in similar events, The NEA Big Read: Great Lakes Bay Region is hosting their Midland Kickoff at Creative 360 from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25.

Music department previews fall performances Connor Rousseau Vanguard Reporter

The Music Department has several plans for the new semester that involve keeping the community engaged in the arts and ensuring that students continue to have the opportunity to sing, play and march. Kevin Simons, director of choirs and professor of music, said music was a fundamental aspect of SVSU’s culture. “The arts, and music, are part of what make a university a university, and not just a job training center,” Simons said. “The performing arts are an important part of the human experience, and at SVSU we seek to better understand how to perform better and what it’s role is in our society.” Colin Wood begins his first year of teaching as a music professor this fall and he is excited for what the department has in store.

“We have many great student performances scheduled this semester from all of our ensembles,” Wood said. “One concert in particular I want to mention is the Rhea Miller Concert Series Guest Artist Derek Brown, who will be performing on campus Friday, Nov. 19. Brown is an innovative and dynamic musician who has pioneered a unique technique he calls ‘Beatbox Sax,’ incorporating elements from beat boxing with saxophone playing simultaneously.” Wood said that he hopes to offer more opportunities for students to involve themselves with jazz and other music, whether they are in the music department itself. Teaching students to improvise is part of his goal, which he realizes by directing the jazz ensembles and teaching music theory classes. “Improvisation is beneficial to musicians in whatever field they decide to pursue

– education, performance, scholarship, composition, or some combination thereof,” Wood said. “Learning to improvise also promotes important skills for any profession, like critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. … Improvisation can be used as a gateway to engage with and understand musical cultures from around the world, so it can open students up to opportunities and ways of thinking that they might not have encountered before.” Brandon Haskett begins the fall semester in his 11th year as a professor in the music department. “Music allows us opportunities to come together as a community and enjoy expressive art-forms that reflect aspects of our cultures,” Haskett said. Coronavirus restrictions are something the music department continues to monitor and adapt to. This is a continued effort to keep

the music department engaged and performing while ensuring the safety of the university community. “As of this moment, it appears that in-person concerts are likely; however, that could change,” Haskett said. “I do anticipate restrictions in the number of audience members for indoor concerts.” Despite current and potential future COVID restrictions, the music department is excited to offer several recitals throughout the course of the fall semester. This includes, but is not limited to, wind ensemble and flute choir concerts in October, a jazz combo recital and marching band concert in November, and a jazz ensemble and Valley Steel concert in December. As well as the Rhea Miller Concert series. With all these events planned for the fall semester, the music department is excited to kick off the new year on a high note.

Pride Center hosts BarbeQueer event Shelby Mott Vanguard Editor-in-Chief

The SVSU pride center hosted its first BarbeQueer to connect LGBTQ students with the pride center. Abbey Sura a master of social work student helped to organize the event. “We wanted the opportunity to share what services and resources we offer while allowing students to meet likeminded individuals in a fun and safe space,” Sura said. Sura said that the event was a success for the pride center, and over forty students attended the event. At the event students could receive a can koozie as well as endangered species condoms. The pride center got these condoms from the endangered species condom project. “I chose to work with the endangered species condom project because they promote not only awareness of the impact humans have on the planet but the importance of safe sex practices,” Sura said. “At the Pride Center, one of our abilities is to connect students with local resources that are LGBTQ+ friendly. The endangered species

condom project offered an opportunity for us to not only promote safe sex practices but speak about this service we offer.” Sarah Baillie is the population and sustainability organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity, the nonprofit which provided the condoms. “The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, environmental non-profit that works to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction,” Baillie said. “We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.” The project helps promote safe sex practices as well as spread information about endangered species. “The Endangered Species Condoms are an outreach tool to help start a conversation about human population pressures and how they negatively affect wildlife,” Baillie said. “Each package has a colorful illustration of an endangered species and a fun slogan on the outside. On the inside, there are 2 condoms and more information about the issue and rights-based solutions.” Baillie also said the projects’ goal is to share the equitable solutions like improved access

BBQueer event allows LGBTQ+ students to meet-and-greet. Vanguard Photo Editor | Brooke Elward to all forms of contraception for everyone. Sura said the pride center has other events coming up, and many services available to students. “The Pride Center offers 1-on-1 counseling, assisting students with preferred

name changes, adding pronouns to Canvas, connecting with LGBTQ+ friendly community resources, OUT group, and hosting events to promote awareness and kindness for the LGBTQ+ community,” Sura said.

The Valley Vanguard A&E Editor Madeline Bruessow | E-mail | Office 989-964-4482 | Instagram @TheValleyVanguard 110A Curtiss Hall


Page A4 | Monday, Sept. 20, 2021 | | The Valley Vanguard

9/11 reminds America of the fragility of national unity Connor Rousseau Reporter Elementary Education

Our national anthem begins with a question. As Americans, it’s our duty to answer it. But not every American has the same answer or vision for our future. While most of our differences are what make us a robust, diverse nation, there comes a point in which our differences grow too hostile and form a void too dark and deep to hold together the fragile bonds of this American experiment. America in 2021 is a nation on the brink. The history is yet to be written, and our leaders’ decisions over the next several years could spell disaster or triumph for our country. But it’s not the leaders or the economy or global relations that define America’s culture and intrinsic values. It’s we the people. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists successfully hijacked several passenger planes and killed thousands of

Americans. In response, we set aside our differences and helped our fellow citizens in their hour of need. Desperately needed supplies were sent to New York City. Prayers were shared worldwide. We mourned the dead and proudly displayed our American flags. Like a phoenix from the ashes came the Freedom Tower, standing proudly 1776 feet above the ground. We showed the world that we would come together for each other and defend our homeland, because in America, we didn’t care where you came from or what you believed. We only cared that you were an American, for this land is my land and this land is your land. But this is the year 2021. We’ve reached a stalemate with our fellow Americans. Like an unhealthy marriage nearing its bitter end, we refuse to engage in productive, respectful discourse. Anyone with an opposing thought has been blocked. We’ve become obsessed once more with uncontrollable physical traits, judging people not for who they are on the inside but what they look like on the

outside. For a friendship to bloom, it must pass several screenings to ensure both parties have the correct stance on mask mandates, vaccines, abortion and immigration. Americans with conflicting views is nothing new. Such differences are not only expected, but welcome in a nation that values free speech and individuality. But what happened to our unifying beliefs and American values? Our decency? Our civility? Since when was it controversial to be a patriot? Where did that sense of national unity we felt surging through our souls on Sept. 11 vanish? Is this but a hiccup in our progress as one nation under God? Or does it foreshadow something far more sinister looming on the horizon? Do we truly wish to know the answer? Or do we go forth into the foggy future with our fingers crossed? As Americans, it is imperative we don’t let our differences become the very things that destroy us. It is our diversity of thought and beliefs that makes us strong, but such differences have become

our Achille’s heel, patiently eroding our national spirit, identity and unity. So how does a Republican avoid the derision of a Democrat? How does a liberal survive the condemnation of a conservative? If such questions had a simple answer, there’d be no need for this piece of writing. But a good start would be to learn the lessons of history. Not even the Roman Empire could survive after it split in two. Our national motto, “E Pluribus Unum”, Latin for “Of Many, One” stands today as a proud principle of our nation. Yes, we have many states, beliefs, backgrounds, values, ethics, opinions, feelings, views, perspectives. But in the end, we are one. Together, we define our future. You and I, in our brief moment here, can either accept that sacred responsibility to heal the void, or we can live in contempt as we mock, judge, and insult our way to the graveyard of nations past. As President Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. Lest we forget.

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