None of us as Americans wanted the attacks of September 11th to occur. We all would have liked the 19 hijackers to have been stopped at the gate and the four planes to have landed at their intended destinations. Unfortunately, that did not happen for a number of well documented reasons. As much as we would like to turn the clock back to September 10th and return to a simpler time – it’s not going to happen. Our world has drastically changed and it is time we all started changing with it.

Whether we like it or not, we are in the midst of an evolution as a nation and as a people. As science and history have chronicled, evolution in any environment is difficult and it is safe to say that some of our adaptations to today’s conditions have been problematic if not downright embarrassing. Our ‘failure of imagination’ in terms of terrorist attacks, our Katrina response and other examples have detailed some of our problems but for all of the areas where we have failed to live up to the level of performance we expect, there is reason for hope.

Today more people are talking about emergency response, national readiness, personal and family preparedness, information sharing, critical infrastructure/key resource protection and resiliency than ever before. Prior to the horrors of that Tuesday morning, only a handful of people in our government and private sectors were talking about these matters. And most of that limited crowd was not talking to one another.

That has changed. Today the public and private sectors from all levels are being engaged in dialogues, partnerships, programs and actions to improve our security as individuals, enterprises, communities and as a homeland. By bringing these perspectives and voices to the table, a long overdue national dialogue is underway. The results thus far are not perfect – and they never will be. But they do show tremendous progress and promise for all us to applaud and support.

It should be a source of national pride that today we have more people actively vested in the security and preservation of our homeland than ever before. New citizen-soldiers from every walk of life are emerging from the public and private sectors to do their part to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for them, their families and our nation. That is something the Founders would expect of us and I think they would be proud of what they are doing.

It is almost unimaginable to think of any silver lining coming from the dark clouds that claimed nearly 3,000 lives and left scarred geography, mindsets and hearts. But as we pause to once again reflect on those losses, we also need to give thanks for what is occurring today and every day since September 11th. We are building a new, stronger nation with a citizenry more attuned to what we have; what we need to secure; and, what we have to do to ensure its survival. That is a silver lining that I give thanks for, and I hope you will too.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More