9/11 Then and Now

A few days ago while driving in the central part of the state and listening to Hoosier Country the dj posed the question "do we need to be bombarded with images from 9/11?" His point was that it was in the past and the feelings that reliving that horrific day in American history could do more harm than good. In fact he commented that a number of psychologists recommended not watching 9/11 footage because of the anxiety, depression, and rage that may ensue.

I remember the week following 9/11 hearing similar comments. The footage of that darkest day was broadcasted 24/7 and helplessly we watched. But I think something remarkable came out of that in the days and weeks to follow. We became One Nation. We became compassionate and sacrificial. And yes, knowing we had a common enemy, we became determined.

But in the months to follow 9/11 the determination swelled into hatred in some American hearts. And a year after 9/11 it seemed that "the day that would change a Nation forever" had changed us, but not into the character developed in the days after 9/11. While I absolutely believe that fighting terrorism on an international scale had to be done, I wonder about the war at home.

Patriotism defined in this post-9/11 world is vastly different from what we witnessed in the days after the sky fell, and nearly opposite of the heartbeat of the Greatest Generation's defining moment. During the days of World War II the homefront was characterized by sacrifice, conservation, and neighbors caring for each other. Today, in the throws of this 10 year war, hearts beat with anger and selfishness. Too strong and generalizing? I don't think so, not after listening to the divisive rhetoric being spewed by politicians and pundits.

Think about the calls for sacrifice during World War II. Think about the propaganda several months after 9/11. The government and corporations were asking us to go out and spend our money. This was patriotism redefined. Fifty years ago we understood the value of collectively educating our children. Today patriotism seems defined by taking a knife to the throat of public education. Individualists did not build this country, as much as we like to think they did.....patriotism is not the dismantling of Social Security, public education, or government in general. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite. Even in my young, right-wing Rush days, I would never have been convinced that what is being proposed by today's conservatives is the right path for a great Nation.

As I thought about the question the dj posed, and having already seen tremendous replay of footage from September 11th, I thought to myself "God, don't let me forget"....don't let me forget the tremendous culture of heroism, compassion, and sacrifice our country experienced in the days following its aftermath. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 could be the cultural equivalent of a hundred years removed from that day. If it did indeed change us........God help us for what it seems to have changed us into.


jimgrey said…
WW II affected every American directly, while the wars we've been involved in since 9/11 have not. They have seemed like peripheral wars; our daily lives have just gone on. (Unless, of course, you have a family member fighting, or worse, lost one.)

I am dismayed and flabbergasted by what Republicans want, draped in the flag of patriotism. I didn't leave the Republican party, the party left me.
hoosier reborn said…
ah, I've used those exact words, quoting Reagan; only he used Democrat.
Kestrel said…
Kurt,I think we have the makings of a "Bull Moose" Party here.
I agree with you and jimgrey, there has been no collective sacrifice and a lot of hatred has been cloaked in patriotism.
As you know, my son has now served in both of these wars. I hope that people will remember all the men and women who have volunteered to SERVE us and our Nation, while we are at home collectively "comfortable and warm". We should never forget that each day someone is protecting our freedom at the risk of their lives.
Jeff said…
We are a more bloodthirsty People today than we were pre-9/11. Every society has a dark underbelly but I think one of the sad consequences of 9/11 has been that our dark side is now mainstream. One of the saddest moments of the recent GOP debate was when the crowd proadly cheered the fact that Texas, under Perry, has executed over 250 people (at least one of which is known to have been innocent). Regardless of what one thinks of capital punishment, I do not want to be in any crowd that takes pleasure in putting another person to death. Perry wore his 250 executions as a badge of honor, without any remorse or second-guessing. There is something in-humane about that. Worse, these are the same people who claim so loudly that America is a Christian nation.
hoosier reborn said…
Thanks for commenting Kestrel and Jeff. I appreciate your son's service, Kestrel, and I didn't know about Perry's comment and subsequent applaud by the crowd....that sort of creeps me out. But as my wife and I talked about it, we identified a few people (even in our church) who probably would have responded in the same way.


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