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By William Haupt III | Watchdog.org
Cody Veteto | Shutterstock.com
“We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose.”
In his farewell address, Ronald Reagan affirmed: “Our resurgence of national pride won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge. Informed patriotism is what we want. Although our spirit is back, we haven’t re-institutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of enterprise. And that freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; and it needs protection.”
On the 17th anniversary of 9/11, a time to remember, a time we wish we could forget, the U.S. learned many lessons that have since been “unlearned.” On Sept. 11, 2001, Islamist cowards made history as the first nation that invaded American soil without provocation. Those that witnessed this genocide were immured in hell on the longest day of their lives. As innocent victims of psychotic cultists committed hari cari at the expense of 2,996 victims, we discovered patriotism can be a good or an evil motivator. We learned bad patriots kill good patriots and real patriots help other patriots. Within the ashes we learned; to some, patriotism is just a word; to others a way of life.
“There will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001.”
The immediate residuum of the attacks on our embattled turf saw a nation come together in acts of defiance and patriotism. Stores ran out of flags as every American wanted to show respect for the maimed and the dead. The Annin & Company flag factory, the oldest flag maker in the U.S., tripled production. Managers extended production time by more than two hours for six days and added a Saturday shift. They hired eight workers bringing the work force up to 228, double of that during the second Great War. And their employees gained a new and special appreciation for their work.
“Our country needs flags! We must produce. It makes us feel good we can help out.”
Traditionally, Americans act quickly giving aide during disasters. They donate to charities that help relief efforts when they see videos that capture the fury of the devastation brought on by a tragedy. They make donations when coverage by media is profound. And their contributions slow once the cameras stop rolling and the news cycles move on. But this was not the case of 9/11. Immediate responses from corporations and prominent Americans inspired mass philanthropy. Big and small financial endowments poured in for months from around the nation and the globe to copious relief agencies.
“We will never forget all of those that came to our rescue today.”
Patriotism at our stadiums became an emotional staple by athletics immediately after 9/11. Tear-jerking moments honoring heroes brought comfort to those who needed to rest and grieve. Sport teams gave free admission to military women and men. Owners of sports franchises encouraged teams to honor local troops returning from abroad. Prayer services were held before events for weeks. Team management believed showcasing our heroes would help heal the American dream.
“I did what any American could and should do: serve his country in its time of need.”
Events of 9/11 spurred artists to write inspired material and re-appropriate classic rock tracks in honor of patriotism. Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Billy Joel, David Bowie, John Mellencamp, and Paul McCartney stepped forward to comfort and heal America with music. Compared to more dramatic military measures taken, the role of music in the aftermath of 9/11 may seem trite. But these events rallied the country and set aside its differences to focus on rebuilding something important for American liberty: The national psyche to defeat terrorism.
“The battle outsides a-ragin’, the loser now will later win, for the times they are a-changin’.”
Americans who’d never given blood before flocked to blood banks. Minutes after the first plane hit, sleeves rolled up. Americans responded to this cataclysmic catastrophe faster than any disaster in U.S. history. There was such a tremendous national outpouring of donors; blood banks could not keep up with patriotic turnout. Lines across the U.S. formed from the wee hours of the morning and remained into the dark hours of night. Blood banks around the nation reached out for volunteers to assist in the drawing of much needed plasma. Thousands waited for hours just to donate.
“Thanks to all of you. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured.”
The country was awash in red, white and blue. On the evening of the attacks, some 150 members of both Congressional parties joined hands singing God Bless America on the steps of the Capitol. A bipartisan Congress passed a $40 billion anti-terrorism victim aid bill, three days after the attack. In a joint resolution, Public Law 107–40 was passed by the 107th Congress to authorize the use of U.S. Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent assaults launched against America. A joint resolution by Congress approved Public Law 107-89 designating September 11 each year as Patriot Day to remember the ideals that define our country and unite us as one.
“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace.”
As we remember our fellow patriots who were murdered 17 years ago today, national unity proved to be short-lived. An extreme, jingoistic patriotism soon gripped the land, accompanied by a rigid code of political correctness. You were either with the White House or with the terrorists.
ABC News soon banned flag pins for its on-air journalists. Each time Hollywood attempted a less than brilliant dramatization of Flight 93 and World Trade Center, it would cue debates about authenticity. Once traditional media decided sensationalism sold more copy than patriotism, they had a field day ripping apart the Bush administration and his declaration of a global war on terrorism.
“I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to come and witness my hanging.”
The rebirth of true national patriotism soon turned into war against anyone that displayed an effort to continue the congenial patriotic commonality Americans found in the aftermath of 9/11. Media’s return to the progressive left morphed all patriotic red, white and blue bipartisan togetherness into wars of political ideology. Media politicized everything from sporting events to Hollywood awards ceremonies. Everyone on the far left was victimized by the right. Media went on a mission to turn public opinion against George Bush and elect a progressive who promised to make America nice guys again.
“You know, these guys are OK. They just need to get to know us.”
Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, wrote: “All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” As it turned out, what could have been a defining moment in modern U.S. history, further divided an already divided nation after the novelty of patriotism wore off. The words “United We Stand” echoed through Congress after 9/11 were just a throwaway motto during the thrill of the chase, not the foundation of how America intended to move on. Patriots can only ask why, patriotism only flourishes when our country is imperiled by a common enemy.
“America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Good night, God Bless America.”
Contributing Columnist William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.
Author: Frances Rice