September 11 brings forth many strong images, many burning memories.  Facebook walls, Twitter feeds, posters and news shows invoked “Never forget” as a mantra for the day.

We will never forget the event, but the feeling of unity that followed 9/11 is surely forgotten by most Americans. I see evidence of that every day in the media, on Facebook and in the way we treat each other.  And there is no bigger shame than that.

In his most recent 9/11 address, President Obama said that we are “a people united like never before.” I believed in 2002 but not in 2012. United is about the farthest thing from the truth I could use to describe America today.

From the hate and vitriol that is regularly spewed on news channels to the hate-laced arguments posted on Facebook among “friends,” I can’t even imagine that anyone would consider America united.

While I remember the smallest details of the day that the planes hit, I will also never forget the days following 9/11.

I remember wandering in the streets at lunch hour on 9/12 and finding spontaneous church services of every denomination found in downtown Pittsburgh and people streaming in – believers and non-believers alike.  It was mostly about being together in this moment that brought many into these powerful gatherings.

I remember the first few times I had to fly for business.  The friendly crew.  The very friendly passengers.  Talking with complete strangers in security lines, in the airport lounges and on the plane. Today I fly with amazingly miserable flight crew, passengers who want nothing to do with one another and people complaining about long waits in security. The difference is breathtaking.

Yesterday, many people on Facebook posted “Never forget” messages – but today, many of them will be back to trying to bait their “political rivals” into a ridiculous political argument.  They will argue about Bush vs. Obama in the war on terror.  They will bicker about the horrific killings in Libya and who said what when and what was “appropriate” and what wasn’t. They will argue about rights taken away for “no good reason.”  They will fight about the upcoming election. And all I can say is “wow.”

I’m not perfect. I let stupid stuff upset me too.  But every day I try to take some of that “friendliness” that permeated society after 9/11 and bring it to my everyday life.  Random acts of kindness may be a trite gimmicky phrase, but if everyone would actually embrace the concept once a month, once a week, once a day, imagine how much more pleasant our everyday life could be.

So never forget.  Never forget that evil lurks in the world and we must be ever vigilant.  But never forget that a little kindness can go a long way toward the unity that existed in late 2001 and into 2002 — and that our leaders somehow think we all still have.