Memories of Sept 11, 2001, & the American spirit – is it lost?

southtowerhitWhat I mourn most deeply is our loss of  innocence and unity.

The thing that really stands out in my memories of Sept 11, 2001, is the astonishing unity of the majority of Americans – sadness, love of country, enormous anger towards our enemies.  Remember the members of Congress standing on the Capitol steps, singing God Bless America?

My friends, coworkers and I exchanged emails, as we tried to find ways we could help and honor those who had died in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. We joined in the candle lighting on the Friday after the attacks. We watched the service at the National Cathedral, where our President gave an uplifting address to the nation.

bushatnationalcathedralHe said, “It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded and the world has seen that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave.
We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion, in long lines of blood donors, in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible. And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice. ……… On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come. As we’ve been assured, neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth can separate us from God’s love. May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.”

It seemed that almost everyone wanted to contribute, to give money, give blood, or donate time, fly flags, say prayers, light candles. We were united as a country as we had not been for a long time.

candlelightvigilsept142001

One of the emails I received contained an editorial from a Romanian newspaper. Perhaps you received it too. I’m repeating it here because I think it is an interesting assessment by an outsider of what America means.

Editorial from a Romanian newspaper by Cornel Nistorescu

Why are Americans so united? They don’t resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct, others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are.

Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about.

The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colours of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: “God Bless America!”.

Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different tv channels. There were Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Silvester Stallone, James Wood, and many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together. The American’s solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert.

I don’t know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America didn’t sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you weren’t able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests. I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds of thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to bow before a fellow human? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.

Only freedom can work such miracles!

According to Wikipedia:

Cornel Nistorescu (born December 15, 1948) is a Romanian journalist, known for his editorial “Ode to America” regarding the American response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.[1]

More:

Nistorescu, managing director of the daily newspaper Evenimentul Zilei — News of the Day — published his editorial Sept 24, two days after watching a celebrity telethon in New York for victims of the attacks.

Like his other columns, “Ode to America” was meant for domestic consumption. No one knows when — or how — the article first reached the other side of the Atlantic. But Nistorescu figures it began when someone pulled it off the English-language version of his daily’s Web page and sent it to a friend.

Since then, thousands of Americans at home and expats around the world have e-mailed it to friends, saying it captured their nation’s spirit. It has been read out to U.S. soldiers and on radio talk shows and posted on U.S. Web sites.

Nistorescu says he had no idea his “Ode to America” would resonate so far away.

Nistorescu remains surprised and touched by the success of the piece, one of thousands he has penned in a more than 20-year career.

“It is all about the American spirit and how freedom cannot be crushed,” he says.

 

eagleflag1

 

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10 Responses to Memories of Sept 11, 2001, & the American spirit – is it lost?

  1. Pa Hermit says:

    How appropriate!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Menagerie says:

      Wee, I have watched this one over and over through the years. I think it is a most fitting tribute, and it, along with the column Stella posted, can perhaps give our children and grandchildren some small perspective on what happened to our country, to us, on that day.

      One would think that from that moment we Americans would have found an easier path to forge, one that more united us. I grieve that it is not so.

      Liked by 2 people

    • stella says:

      I just realized that this is the 20th anniversary version. Beautiful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucille says:

    The American spirit is not dead on our side as is evidenced by how we responded to the deaths of the 13, how we joined the funeral processions, how we went into the terrorist enclave to rescue those who the Biden Democrats left behind. We’re alive in how we participated in the Florida flotillas, how we still salute the flag, how we are proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance, how we love patriotic songs, how we pray for our country and make not always successful efforts to pray that our enemies will repent and leave evil behind. We see the spirit in Larry Elder, in Governor Ron DeSantis, in Candice Owens, in Kurt Schlichter, in President Trump and his family, in the thousands who attend rallies and those who work to discover the truth about the 2020 election, and on and on.

    Plus we would be more than happy to join in with fellow Americans of the Democrat persuasion if they would speak reasonably, converse with dignity, act in a civilized manner, not try to force us to comply with their desires, not lie and try to destroy us…not just our beliefs BUT US.

    I hold out hope for America if we can survive until January 2023.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Lucille says:

    ‘Never Forgotten’ – 20 Year World Trade Center Time-Lapse – 2001 – 2021

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lucille says:

    I don’t have a link for the following as I received it in an email from Scott Taylor….

    20 Years
    Friday, September 10, 2021

    20 years – since my life changed, since our nation changed, since the world changed. The years in between would yield, among other things, the very altering of the U.S. government, numerous deployments by less than one percent of our nation, families fractured and broken apart, “Amazing Grace” played thousands of times at military funerals, and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent.

    20 years ago, I awoke, like many Americans, just in time to see the second tower fall on live television. That moment was surreal. It was scary. I joined a group organized by U.S. Navy SEAL Team Four to go help in New York at Ground Zero, but there were so many Americans volunteering from across the country that they asked only those with firefighting experience to come. Most were unsure of what was to come next. But we knew what was coming next: war. My prior plans to leave Naval service were abandoned, and I reenlisted early.

    20 years have passed since then, but like many others, I continue searching for ways to serve, to save lives, and to step up for our nation. I did so in the immediate wake of 9/11, and more recently, I’ve done so in the last days of this war.

    20 years after 9/11/2001, I found myself headed overseas, called to help save American and allied Afghan lives, during a hasty and poorly planned withdrawal that ended our nation’s longest war. There were some successes and some failures in helping people; the demand far exceeded the supply.

    Indeed, after two weeks of around-the-clock efforts, and ultimately after our failure to get beyond Taliban checkpoints to help hundreds of innocent and talented students…I broke down and wept. My moment came after the young women and girls did not make it to freedom. An Army special operations veteran called me from Afghanistan. Offering his selfless support, he said: “I’m here on the ground in Kabul. I will do anything to help. I have two girls at home, man.” I thought about him and his willingness to put his life on the line, despite his own family at home…I thought about all my friends who have given their lives for a cause that they viewed to be greater than themselves…so many emotions overcame me all at once.

    20 years have been a burden to bear on a small percentage of the population who will carry a heavy load for the rest of their lives. And 20 years later, at the end of this war, veterans, Americans – from all walks of life – stepped up to help just as they did 20 years ago.

    Regardless of your views on the war or withdrawal from Afghanistan, never stop showing appreciation for those in our country who live by a code summed up in Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.’”

    We remember.

    Your Humble Servant,
    Scott Taylor

    Liked by 2 people

  5. WeeWeed says:

    They’re all gone, now….

    Liked by 2 people

  6. WeeWeed says:

    Like

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