Acts of patriotism
Last Tuesday's terrorist attacks have prompted an outpouring of nationalist sentiment on a scale not seen since World War II. What is the most original or inspiring display of patriotism you've witnessed over the past week?
There have been so many heroic and patriotic acts all throughout our country and to single out one would be difficult. When Hilary Clinton was interviewed last night she spoke of the 4 men on the Pennsylvania flight and she went on to commemorate their incredible act of bravery but she also emphasized the point of what better way to rebuke this act of terrorism to our country but by doing so in the greatest American and democratic way when they chose to take a vote on their decision to overtake the terrorists. Enough can never be said of the patriotism and heroism of all the New York firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, clergy, volunteers, etc., who have risked their lives to help save other lives. Mayor Guiliani and Governor Pataki have shown tremendous leadership, strength and patriotism for their city and our Country. And although the sense of patriotism and unity has been greatly displayed and deeply felt everywhere from the smallest of suburban towns to major cities all across the country I think New York has shown this strength and patriotism in tenfold. David Letterman made a beautiful commemoration to all of New York in their time of grief and devastation and I could not help but cry when Dan Rather broke down, but I cried more so because he apologized for crying and not acting like a pro. No one should apologize for crying in such a time of tragedy and devastation, not even a journalist who feels that becoming emotional is not part of job. As David replied, "for Christ sakes you're a human being!" But one man said it best on Dateline the other night when, he described his experience in the mist of ground zero, as his eyes welled up in tears, he said there we were all different colors and nationalities, standing side by side united trying to help one another.
As I was driving down Main Street in Waltham I witnessed a homeless woman pushing her grocery cart full of her life's possessions with an American flag attached to it.
I received an e-mail this morning from somebody at work that included about 25 pictures of places around the world that are mourning with us. They showed our flag hanging in their streets, candle lighting ceremonies just like the ones we have been holding here, and all different kinds of people feeling our pain as if they live here. I can't explain how enlightening it was for me to look at. With all the ugliness we have been looking at recently on TV, and in the newspapers, it was a breath of fresh air to see how completely supported our country really is. People all over the world are showing American patriotism during this moment of need. I have to say that e-mail gave me more hope than anything else I've read lately.
This is a mourning period. It's not the 4th of July. A simple flag is all anyone should display, if possible at half staff. But when people have 5 flags, or paint an entire house or wear those big Uncle Sam type hats I find it too much. Remember you are mourning, NOT celebrating.
One of my favorite words is honor. A powerful word that means recognition, distinction, integrity, dignity, and pride. There have been numerous acts of honor, of patriotism, and heroics since last Tuesday and everyone involved in this should and will be honored. However, the most honorable acts occurred on board United Airlines Flight 93. The horror of that flight, and all of the flights, is inconceivable. Nevertheless, what happened over the skies of Pennsylvania is special. Facing certain death the persons responsible for taking over the plane and realizing that the lives of the many outweigh the lives of the few was extraordinary. Someone mentioned there should be a national monument for those involved. I hope there will be. In addition, I hope the government recognizes not only the individuals on that flight but their families as well. Despite the tragedy last week, the dismal economy, and the precariousness of the coming months, I still believe this is truly an awesome time to be alive. Moreover, there is no other place on this planet I would rather be then in the United States, in Boston, with friends and family.
This past Saturday my husband, Uncle and Aunt drove from upstate NY into Canada and my husband (a disabled Vietnam Veteran) was amazed by the display of support in Canada. None of us could believe the number of American flags being flown at half staff. There were many Canadian flags as well but the fact that our neighbors to the north were flying our flags was amazing!
-Margie, Fall River
Please, please, please, let us not teach our children to hate.
Of the many sad subtexts in this experience, surely one of the saddest is to see innocent children in the middle east and Pakistan and Afghanistan joyously celebrating this catastrophe. Do not blame them. Blame those who have taught them to hate. No matter how right we may be to respond to last week's attacks with military force, that response will entail death and human suffering. Please, let us not teach our children to take pleasure in that.
Last Thursday there was a vigil on our town common in Needham. Many people from my street walked down to the vigil together. Everyone said that they just had to go to show our spirit and unity. It was jammed with people of different faiths. It was just great - and just what we need to see during such a heartbreaking time!
The most patriotic thing any of us can do right now is to show our support for Americans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Regardless of our devastated emotional state (shock, terror, grief, anger) the fact is that we are each personally accountable for the hatred we sow and for that reason alone we must not spread the hatred that these terrorists feel toward us. To help us in our effort to control our grief and anger, what is important to remember is that the terrorists' perception of us, and the image of us that they hold up before the less radical and even the peaceful members of their faith, helps create for the terrorists the sympathy they require to be protected in their actions against us. If we Fuel this with our own hatred and intolerance against American Muslims (or any other than those who are guilty of these acts), then we ourselves become traitors against our own nation as well as against our national heritage -- which is founded on religious freedom. It is easy, very understandable, and acceptable to be angry, and in this case it is treacherous childishness to not be aware of its consequences when misdirected. We Americans are of all faiths and will single out none for retaliation against a small group of misdirected members, that is the example (and the Truth) that will help Muslims of all countries come to support us in our war against terrorism.
-Cheryl Boggs, Houston
The thought of knowing that there are people still missing is unbearable. Why do people feel that they have to kill other people for no apparent reason at all? I find this tragedy to be unbelievable. My heart goes out to all the people suffering from the lost of a love one or love ones. God Bless America!!!
-Beverly Mooney, Rome, Ga.