Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten years gone

The darkest days often harbor the most subtle gifts.

In the terrible wake of 9/11, authentic patriotism swelled. Members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capital and vowed to protect this country. They sang "God Bless America" and not one part of it felt less than wholly genuine. Ubiquitous flags flew honestly and quietly.

Foreign countries waxed benevolent towards the wounded American giant. The French newspaper Le Monde declared, Nous sommes tous Américains (We are all Americans) on its front page.

President George Bush addressed the nation and the world, saying we would not blame these atrocities on our Muslim brethren. I respected him for that. He was a leader.

I suspect the profound experience associated with 9/11 was not unlike the swirl of patriotism that engulfed the country at the onset of World War II, which is often credited for ending the Great Depression.

In a way it did. A massive government war effort--a cloaked stimulus--coupled with a rush to country rescued the United States from its financial doldrums. Uncle Sam was spending and America was ready to accommodate him. I know; my own family was a part of it. My grandfather worked for a humble small business, Laganke Electric, which wasn't so humble after the government contracts for military instrumentation started rolling in. My grandfather eventually launched his own company, Lakeshore Electric, on the waves of the war effort.

World War II was a stimulus program that worked, but it wasn't driven by dollars. American confidence pulled the country back from the brink.

American confidence is a mighty thing. When it's gathering speed, nothing can stop it. When it's sinking in vitriol, it takes the whole world down with it.

Somehow we squandered the patriotic gifts that sprouted in the shadow of 9/11, but I'm not ready to give up yet. Although I do not blink wide-eyed with blind patriotism, I stand in loyal opposition when I disagree with the White House and Congress. I stand against division and hate. On this terrible anniversary and on every day, I stand for America.

She needs me.

Black Clouds Hovering Over America by John O'Brien


Tony Rugare said...

In the midst of all the 9/11 hype I was looking for something which really put the events of 9/11 in perspective. This post did it. Eloquent!

Anonymous said...

She needs you, ma'am, indeed. She needs us all. Thank you.

Bill said...

Eloquent, Erin. I stand with you.

Ron said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Ms Amanda said...

Beautifully written.

Leslie Morgan said...

What a piece of writing, Erin! Well done. And, yes - she needs every one of us at our very best. Thank you. Visit my place tomorrow for my personal story of 9/11. It has less to do with America, but it is an American's story.

rraine said...

a masterful job, erin. thank you.

Caroline Duffy said...

Excellent article Erin, I agree with your philosophy on this one. See...lefties and righties can hold hands. Love ya!

DogsDontPurr said...

Very moving. And so true.

Judy said...

Too bad the whole nation does not feel this way...too many whiners out there...

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Some personal irony for me, your choice of that last image.
The one thing that stays with me about September 11, 2001, was my drive home from work.
I didn't have the internet in my office, and what I knew about the events was what I heard on the radio-Bruce Drennan on morning sports talk saying that there had been an exlposion, another attack like 1993 at the World Trade Center...and then the news dominoed like the Towers did when the collapsed-an explosion, then a plane crash, then the second strike and you knew we were at war.
But it was the drive home-it was a crystal clear autumn day, and nowhere is autumn more beautiful than Northeast Ohio.
As I drove west on the shoreway, I looked to the skies and realized how odd the clarity was-there were no contrails lacing the sky as they do even on the most azure of days.
Nobody was flying.
We were at war.

Erin O'Brien said...

Two themes that permeated the 9/11 experience:

Noticing the empty flawless blue sky.

Thinking we're at war.

The History channel had remarkable coverage last night "102 Minutes that changed America"--mostly citizen captured video that was utterly chilling.

Anonymous said...

Open to all:
Something that struck me as I watched replays of live feeds, as-it-happened style: how easy it would be, based on sketchy or uninformed reporting or irresponsible speculation, to germinate conspiracy theories. Case in point-an MSNBC correspondent quoting an unnamed FDNY official that he (the FD source)detected a secondary explosion in one of the towers, and that he thought it was caused by a pre-planted device secondary to the damage caused by the aircraft. Never mind that gas lines and flammables were no doubt present throughout the buildings-take a nugget like that and let an individual pre-disposed to a conspiratorial belief system, and you give someone an ironclad belief that the buildings were imploded deliberately.
I would enjoy hearing anyone's thoughts

Bill said...

Good point, MR. I still think that Jose Padilla was the 3rd OKC bomber. But, I'm pretty sure Elvis is dead.

3rd OKC bomber

Anonymous said...

Bill-fortunately, I have developed a habit over the years of checking an author's affiliation before reading an op-ed or piece of advocacy, so that I can approach it with the appropriate level of skepticism, and so I was spared any significant level of exposure to Mr. Beck's drivel. But thanks for your interest in my initial idea. As far as Mr. Presley, I subscribe to the theory postulated in the documentary film "Men In Black"-Elvis isn't dead, he just went home.

Bill said...

MR: Padilla looks like the original sketch of #3. I didn't read an op-ed or piece of advocacy. I just linked to the pictures. My belief that Padilla is the 3rd bomber is not derived from someone elses opinion. I've developed a habit over the years of having my own opinions.

Anonymous said...

Only thing I watched on Sunday was the "102 Minutes" docu. That was...absolutely brilliant/riveting. And this post...well, I wish I would've read it when you put it up originally, not now after 3 days. It's the only thing that speaks to me. All the coverage was absolute exploitative bullshit. Thank you for this. I lost a friend, Barbara Olson, wife of Solicitor General Ted Olson (at the time) in the Pentagon crash. She was a good friend, with whom I'd struck a great relationship while directing Chris Matthews' show on MSNBC in the mid to late 90s. I miss her to this day. She was a wonderfully warm human being and always took the time to hang out w/the crew/staff.

Also, let's remember that during WWII Americans made enormous sacrifices in order for this country to prosper. I'm not seeing that now...or since 9/11/01.

Erin O'Brien said...

Alex, can you imagine the outrage that would ensue if Obama asked any sacrifice from today's Americans?

Gas rationing? Meat rations? Saving tin cans for the war?

I wonder what the modern ne'er conserve conservatives would say about that.


Bill said...

Got Sacrifice? Real unemployment abouit 16%. $4 gas. Price of food rising because corn is being used to make gas because we can't drill for oil. Feds flush $535M down the Solyndra toilet. Sort your gargage correctly or get fined. To name a few.

alphadog said...

I don't feel terribly compelled to sacrifice the first damn thing in order to support our meddling in the Middle East.

Erin O'Brien said...

Exactly my point, Alph. Americans do not believe in the Middle East wars. They believed in WWII.

Bill said...

@swine: You were fortnuate to have known Barbara Olson personally. She was a polite, articulate, passionate, conservative commentator. I remember that she was a strong supporter of Clarence Thomas. Judging by her final phone call to her husband, she was also very brave. And, you worked with Chris Matthews before he lost his mind!

Anonymous said...

@swine and Erin-
Exactly the opposite of sacrifice was suggested by people in leadership-Mr Bush got his second tax cut AFTER we were in Iraq... I have to think never in the history of war anywhere anytime has a government CUT taxes in a time of war.
Rudolph Guiliani suggested going shopping and taking in a show.