Has it only been eight years? The dastardly attack on the World Trade Center and the pentagon, and the planned attack on our national capital occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, eight short years ago. How then have we already forgotten the lessons of that day?
For a few weeks we came together as a nation. We embraced each other and urged each other to keep our spirits up. We swore that we would never let such an attack happen again.
There was a sudden demand for U.S. flags. Stores ran out of flags and citizens were rushing about trying to find a flag to display as a mark of their loyalty to our nation.
As an officer in the local camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I help manage an information booth at the Comer fair every year. While supplying the booth with patriotic merchandise, U.S. and Confederate, I had developed sources that I used to obtain a supply of flags. Our booth did a brisk business that year. Everyone wanted a flag to display at their homes, on their cars and on their lapels.
Then there was the music. Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be An American” was the song of the year. There was a song about the eagle taking flight. Dozens of other songs in both country and rock performers proclaimed our defiance of the terrorist who would dare attack our society and our nation. We as a people stood arm and arm to defend our nation from further attacks.
But it took less than eight years to forget all that. There are places in America today where you will be severely criticized if you show the flag. People who exercise their constitutional rights of free speech, freedom to assemble and present grievances to our legislators called “un-American” People who show signs of patriotism are dubbed right wing radicals. Even those brave Americans who risk their lives to gather the intelligence we needed to protect ourselves from terrorist attacks are now being threatened with prosecution as common criminals.
It is hard to believe that we lost our patriotic fervor in less than eight years. It is as though 9/11 never happened, or that in some way we are to blame for the criminal attacks against our citizens. The solidarity we found in the weeks that followed the attacks has crumbled into shouting matches, insults and personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with any subject. And the insults fly from both sides of the political spectrum.
For a brief moment, the actions of international terrorists brought us together as a nation. We had an opportunity to emerge stronger, more united and determined to serve our nation and each other. But we let it slip away. Today, just eight years later, our nation is split by partisan hatred and intolerance. There are a few voices still crying in the wilderness seeking reconciliation between the factors, but they are few and far between.
It is a sad thing to see.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/
America has too much of everything. Perhaps even too much freedom. I seriously doubt we would prevail if paced with a national crisis such as we had on December 7, 1941. The Greatest Generation came together and fought because our very existence was in danger. Sacrafices were made that the people today would never stand for. In our darkest hours, the Americans were able to reach back and pul that extra something up and stand the strain and fight the fight - I am not sure the general population today has that kind of strength or patience.