Defining Character – The Lessons of September 12, 2001 – United States of America

American flags across a green lawn

By Ross E. Schulman, Family Law Attorney

September 11, 2001 will forever be known as one of the darkest days in American history. Whether you were physically in New York, Pennsylvania, or Washington, D.C. out of the pristine and cloudless late summer sky, our world suddenly changed forever.

While still battling fire and burning wreckage, in the face of deadly compromised structural damage, immediate and nothing shy of heroic efforts to locate survivors tirelessly ensued, lasting through the night into September 12, 2001. People of all races, colors, genders, and socioeconomic and political backgrounds spontaneously banded together as one in a unified response to an unimaginable crisis.

September 12, 2001

If September 11th was one of our country’s darkest days, September 12 was one of America’s brightest. On September 12, American character was on display for all the world to see in its full glory.

Emergency trained first responders worked side by side with laypeople, offering any assistance they were capable of. Iron workers, photographers, medics – you name it, all stood side by side with medics, military personnel, firefighters, and police officers, working tirelessly to recover any body they could find. Everyone on that pile, at the Pentagon, or in that Pennsylvania field, Americans participating in rescue and recovery operations faced life threatening danger, from the debris itself, to the very air they inhaled. Ordinary American citizens disregarded their personal safety to do extraordinary things for others.

September 11, 2021 – Twenty Years Later

As I watched the recent news footage on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, I could not help but recall and admire the humanity and perseverance of the first responders. One couldn’t help but pay attention to the survivor’s tales of selflessness and bravery and in the face of such chaos and destruction.

Today, I am an attorney, practicing family law in Southwest Florida, a far cry from my previous life as a financial market maker in Manhattan on September 11, 2001. The events I witnessed firsthand on the 11th, and perhaps more importantly, the response and reaction on September 12th forever shaped my way of viewing the world. I learned a valuable lesson, as I look back. The takeaway is that it is not a specific event or situation which defines you, it is the response and the approach which illustrates your character and true self. As a country, America showed just how special it is on September 12, 2001.

Applying the Lessons of September 12, 2001

Twenty years later, America finds herself off course and struggling in many ways. Americans have had to deal with a health pandemic, heightened political atmosphere, surge in intolerance and hate crimes, and disparate economics, even in backdrop of what has been a historically strong stock market and low interest rate environment. I encourage you all to heed the advice I offer my clientele: While we may not have ever expected to face such adversity in our lives, it is how we set aside our differences and work together to deal with difficult times and extreme situations that define us. The American people came together and exemplified their true character on September 12, 2001.

In these uncertain times, or even as any unexpected personal event seems to stop our world from turning, we will always be able to define ourselves through our responsive actions, and show our true character as we persevere and move on with our lives.

Let’s never forget those who perished on September 11th; However, let’s always remember to live like its September 12th.

About the Author

Ross Schulman, Attorney at Law

Ross E. Schulman, Family Law Attorney

Ross E. Schulman is a top-rated Florida family law attorney in the Naples office of Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. He is a Certified Financial Litigator, has earned his designation as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and is licensed to practice law in Florida and New York. Ross works with clients regarding the dissolution of marriage, pre/postnuptial agreements, paternity, custody, mediation and litigation. Contact Ross at (239) 649-6555.






See this article in Southwest Florida Health & Wellness Magazine.