SINCE TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 we have witnessed a different America. Or have we? Although we sat transfixed before our television screens watching over and over again the horror of each airplane crashing into the two massive towers of the World Trade Center and then the even more unimaginable horror of those engineering marvels collapsing within minutes of each other, we have also been witness to a different scene – the outpouring of love for each other. Mayor Guiliani stated this new reality beautifully when he said, "We are more united within ourselves."
Perfect strangers have looked after each other. There is the story of a woman, who forsook her own safety and carried a stranger in a wheelchair down from an upper floor. There is the news video of two young men grabbing the arms of a more elderly and less fit stranger and literally carrying him out of the way of the smoke and debris cascading around them as the building collapsed.
We have been moved by the raw emotion of firemen, rescue workers, medical professionals, and yes, even cynical news reporters as they have come face to face with the enormity of this tragedy.
The terrorist attack on the United States has brought us together in a way no amount of preaching about political correctness ever could. We have put aside our petty differences and have joined together to grieve. We grieve because we have lost brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. And even those of us who have not lost anyone they know grieve for others who have. On Sunday I met an old friend, a retired Marine who has seen death and destruction innumerable times. He said, "this tragedy has affected me in a way that even I cannot understand. What a waste." We are all grieving because the enormity of the loss is immeasurable.
Since Tuesday the preaching about multicultural diversity, the finger pointing at one group or another for not caring or understanding another, and the constant liberal drumbeat about such things as reparations, affirmative action, and the inequities of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation has been silenced. We have been witnesses to the true brotherhood of mankind as the family of man has joined together.
More than 5,000 people died in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. Those that caused their deaths didn’t care who they were, only that they were riding in American airplanes or standing on American soil. Everyone - even the terrorists - is expendable in this twenty-first century jihad.
The difference between the terrorists and the American people is that we don’t believe anyone is expendable. Americans care. We are demonstrating what makes us different from others and we are leading the world, not by intellectual pontification, but by action. We see this leadership in the thousands across this country who have waited hours to donate blood, the thousands who have volunteered to help in any way they could, and the hundreds of thousands who will roll up their sleeves in the weeks, months, and years to come to eradicate the evil of terrorism. This generation of Americans, like previous generations, is ready and we are united in that endeavor.
Yet, as the week was coming to an end we could hear voices of divisiveness begin to faintly emerge. It began with Peter Jennings, ABC anchor and Canadian citizen, questioning the courage of President George W. Bush. On CNN, former Fox newswoman Paula Zahn couldn’t resist asking guests questions designed to separate us along partisan party lines. Some in the media have even suggested that the head of the CIA is somehow responsible for Tuesday’s attack and therefore should resign.
They appear to be stuck in the rut of trying to play the same blame game of the past. I hope that the American people will send those stuck in such a time warp a message: stop attacking, dividing, and vilifying fellow Americans.