In the past week or so, there have been varying reactions to what happened in our country on Sept. 11th. Without a doubt, it was a momentous date in American history. With such momentous occasions often come momentous emotions and momentous realizations.
As I walked past and observed the vigils, demonstrations and gatherings of the past weekend, I looked on with wonder and amazement at the effects of these attacks on America and its citizens.
While much has been made of the effects of American retaliatory attacks, there has been little discussion about the effects that are already being demonstrated. There is little talk of what those behind the attacks anticipated about the reactions of the American people and the world.
What was the anticipated reaction to bloodshed so needless, to actions so destructive, to movements so truly hateful? Were Americans expected to cry and slither away? Were Americans expected to be ashamed of themselves and their country? Were Americans expected give up on their vision for the world?
As those who converse with me in social circles know, I have often been known to speak in movie quotes. Call me corny, but as I watched strangers across the country hold hands together, sing together, and pray together, I was reminded of the singing in Who-ville at the end of a classic Christmas movie.
In that tale, of course, the Grinch thought that he could take away a holiday by stealing the tangible celebratory items of the festival. After executing his plan, he climbed to the top of a mountain and listened for the reaction of crying and the death of celebration in the city he had struck in such a calculated manner.
In the present-day application, I pictured a terrorist standing atop a mountain, listening for the sounds of the impending unraveling of America, speaking to him or her self.
“We took their World Trade Center. We reached their Pentagon. And yet they sing, they pray and they gather together … ”
Across the country, there were people of all ages and walks of life, who, if for but a moment, put aside their suddenly insignificant differences to stand with each other as Americans and as people. Seeing all those people standing together made something very clear to me — America is not the World Trade Center; America is not the Pentagon; America is neither purple mountains nor amber waves of grain.
Perhaps those people singing and praying together knew something. Perhaps they knew something that terrorists from around the world can never know. Perhaps that terrorist with a heart and mind so many sizes too small, listening from the top of the mountain will realize something. Perhaps America is none of the things he or she attacked. Perhaps “America” means a little bit more.