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(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)Judy Parisio places an American flag in a plaque of names of the victims of the September 11 attacks at North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 11th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2012.

September 11, 2001, was a day so monumentally tragic, its memory seems more like a dream than reality. The world came to a grinding halt as thousands of innocent civilian lives were cut short by the sword of radical Islamic terrorism.

Nineteen jihadists, all hailing from the Middle East, were able to pull off the most massive terror strike in world history. The attacks we suffered that day were not only against our nation but also on Judeo-Christian Western civilization and all the freedoms and prosperity it provides.

The twin towers were not only the tallest buildings in New York City, but they also symbolized capitalism, freedom and the American dream; a pinnacle of unequivocal success only achieved in a society built on Judeo-Christian values and principles. The towers said to the world, "This is what Western civilization is capable of producing, a society of unlimited achievement, innovation, strength and success." This unmistakable message was the real target of those who brought down the towers.

What Our Enemies Hate Most

America also is viewed as the epitome of Judeo-Christian exceptionalism by our enemies. Jihadists don't concern themselves with Western opinions about America, and in their view, America is Westernization at its most powerful.

This concept is critically important to understand. Americans were shocked and confused on September 11, 2001, because they couldn't imagine how anyone could commit such an evil act. "What did we do to deserve this?" they asked.

Jihadists hate us because we are infidels, and they view our way of life as a direct threat to theirs. This belief, embedded in jihadist ideology, functions as the Islamist justification for the atrocities committed on 9/11.

Unfortunately, what we cherish most about America is what our enemies hate most about our country. While the Western world mourned on September 11, 2001, Palestinians danced in the streets with joy. In the Western world, we love and celebrate life. In the Islamic world, they love and celebrate death. That's a contrast with profoundly dangerous consequences.

The Wake-Up Call from Hell

In the aftermath of September 11, Americans were more unified than they'd been since World War II. Flags flew on almost every porch. Patriotic bumper stickers were on every car. In every mall, park or public gathering, a sea of T-shirts displayed our flag or slogans like "God Bless America" or "Never Forget."

Athletes and fans stood proudly for our national anthem. Celebrities were proud to voice their love for this country and their gratitude for the opportunities and protections it provided them. We all felt as lucky to be Americans as we did to be alive. We held our loved ones more tightly and waved our flags more proudly.

Even those who disagreed with George W. Bush respected him enough to call him our president and passionately cheered when he threw the first pitch during the World Series at Yankee Stadium that autumn.

Political disagreements of the past were suddenly meaningless. All that mattered was our American identity. We realized that what unified us was so much stronger and more important than what divided us.

Support for our troops was never higher across all industries, including leftist Hollywood. We realized the dangers we all faced moving forward in this fight against Islamic terrorism, and we willingly came together to restore our feeling of security. How I wish for the sake of our nation that such patriotic unity would've lasted.

Where Is That Patriotism Now?

Fast-forward to contemporary America, and the contrast is unmistakable. It seems that today Americans are more divided than ever and remarkably oblivious to the grave dangers facing our nation and the Western world at large.

The rapid technological advancements that have taken place since 2001 enhance this ironic tragedy. Access to information has never been easier, faster or more affordable.

A wave of apathy has washed over our nation with respect to national security. The vigilance and activism we saw after 9/11 have disappeared. The American flags that lined our porches and street corners are now considered hate symbols by the radical Left and banned from certain college campuses.

You read that right.

UC Irvine Student Government leader Matthew Guevara wrote a bill banning the American flag from being displayed on campus because, "The American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism" and could be used to "construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards," whatever that means.

The anti-flag resolution at UC Irvine went on to say that "freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible, can be interpreted as hate speech." And there you have it. Not only is the American flag under attack on college campuses, but the fundamentally American ideal of freedom of speech.

You know who else doesn't believe in free speech? The terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and almost the White House. Radical leftists hate the flag as much as radical Islamists do because it represents ideals that are contrary to their warped worldview.

Coming Together as a Nation

We are now in an age where nothing is safe from the leftist anti-American propaganda movement, and we better be prepared to fight back or continue to see the most unifying aspects of our culture destroyed.

It's high time we as Americans start to call out attempts to divide us when we see them. Those who seek to destroy this country from within know that Americans, when unified, are a light for the rest of the world that cannot be extinguished. But when fragmented, we leave ourselves vulnerable to their attacks from within.

Instead of focusing on that which unites us, the radical Left has led us astray. Soros-funded anti-American organizations such as Media Matters, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Antifa have launched a full-scale attack against America. They try clever tricks to divide us, such as ginning up racial and religious division, while continuing to push their false narrative that America is an inherently evil nation.

More egregious, they attempt to silence anyone who does not conform to their politically correct worldview. This divide-and-conquer strategy is their only hope to, in the words of our former failed president, "fundamentally transform" our nation.

We cannot take the bait, and we surely cannot lay down when they attempt to silence us. Instead, we must rise as one cohesive, unified America—the same America that came together after 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.

After all, regardless of race or religion, all peaceful Americans are infidels in the eyes of our enemies. Jihadists don't care whether you support President Trump, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders; jihadists only care that you do not submit to their radical Islamist worldview. It's easy to find common ground when we put things into perspective. As Americans, we think we are further apart from one another than we really are.

I'm talking about the real heart of America, not the out-of-touch D.C. swamp. I'm talking about the people like you and me, who wake up every morning, work hard, and just want to come home safely to a country that affords them the freedom to live as they please. I'm talking about people who still believe that America is the greatest country on earth.

My friends, freedom and security are not political issues; they are American issues. Remember, we are all marked for death in the eyes of our enemies. So, let us cast off the shackles of division holding us back and call out those pushing these destructive distractions when we see them.

America is the greatest country on earth and worthy of both our highest respect and protection. Let the anti-American haters say what they will, but as for the millions of patriots who realize how blessed we are to have been handed the lottery winning tickets of American citizenship and residence, we know what we're thankful for and what we're fighting for.

Brigitte Gabriel is a New York Times best-selling author, terrorism expert and founder of Act for America. Her new book, "RISE: In Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom," will be released on Sept. 11.
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