Five years ago today I woke up to a beautiful fall day in Minnesota. It was sunny, warm, and full of possibilities. I, like everyone else, never expected any of what was to come. I was shaken to my core by a phone call I received from my girlfriend minutes after the first tower was hit. CNN has a memorial site they archived back in 2004, which lists names, ages, residences, location, and pictures of all the people who fell victim that day.

Moments like this remind me of what it means to rise back above the petty partisan squabbling that we have found ourselves in for the past several years. It reminds me that, in the end, we are all Americans, and, more importantly, all human beings. I think it behooves us all to remember that the people we villify on both sides: Republican or Democrat; Islamofascists or the Great Satan; Axis of Evil or corporate-run hegemonists are, ultimately just people.

The most chilling firsthand account of what happened in New York that day came from my friend, Faisal Mohamood, who worked for Goldman Sachs at the World Trade Center. I think it’s fitting, and it gives me some degree of hope, that he and I can share a meal and these stories with each other without any sense of recrimination, doubt, or malice. I shared a drink last night with a Palestinian brother and sister who hate the PLO as much as they hate Bush, and only wish that Lebanon and Israel could find a way to make a lasting peace with each other. These people, and thousands or millions of others like them, give me hope for the future.