Our Conflict With ColorSeptember 3, 2014
Lasting Victory Against TerrorismSeptember 11, 2014
On 911 Americans Became One
By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO —
On 911 Americans became one and the day will be earmarked in the history books as the day that changed America forever.
The shocking and horrific terrorist attack signaled to all Americans, irrespective of our race, ethnicity, religion, economic status or dwelling place – urban, suburban, or rural – that we were equally disliked and disregarded in the eyes of terrorists who hate everything about our democratic way of life.
We suddenly became one, united in our patriotic feelings and the desire to protect America and our way of life despite its imperfections. On 911 Americans became one.
Sometimes, it is amazing what it takes for different people from different walks of life living in proximity to each other to recognize the things we have in common – the things that bind us. To finally recognize that differences in skin color may not be the great divide we think it is. But, rather, other things like religion, economic disparity, a way of life often create and build the greatest chasms.
But with the events of September 11, we also have inherited an awesome burden. We must revisit, or bother to learn anew, and apply some critical lessons from history.
On 911 Americans Became One
I am reminded of the memorable words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the nation faced another crisis. He boldly and confidently reminded the nation that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” But I am also reminded of the age-old axiom that great civilizations are rarely destroyed from external forces, but rather from weaknesses from within.
What’s notable about both pronouncements is that ignorance is often the common source of both fear and weakness. We can not afford to remain in a bubble of ignorance, peppered with misplaced arrogance or blind pride. The ramifications for our future lifestyle and that of generations to follow are simply too great. On 911 Americans became one and it needs to be lasting.
On a broader and lasting scale, terrorism will not be understood and defeated until we make a concerted effort to reduce the pervasive lack of knowledge among adults, and children alike, of emerging forces and ideologies that are harmful to our own.
It is both a local and national challenge that cut across race, ethnicity, age, gender, and socio-economic status.
As we pause this Thursday to remember and honor the ordinary citizens and heroes who lost their lives on that infamous September morning, we must also give serious thought on the ongoing obligation of those of us who were spared.
All of us. Black, white, brown, yellow, alike. On 911 Americans became one. Let us remain together
Feature Photo Credit: foreignpolicy.com
Everyone who either saw the images on television or heard the horrific news second-hand was in total shock and disbelief that such an attack was even real or possible. 911 is the number we usually call when we have an emergency situation requiring the assistance of the police, or the fire department, or medical assistance. All three of these entities were needed for the tragedy which was unfolding before our very eyes. But I would not say that we wee one as a result of the destruction of the World Trade Center. Quite the contrary. The World Trade Center was located in the Manhattan Financial District. The New York Port Authority used eminent domain to condemn private property in order to stimulate economic development in the area. At the outset there was immense criticism of the project because of the aesthetics of the buildings. They were often referred to as the boxes that the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building came in. But eventually the Port Authority leased the two towers out to a private entity for billions of dollars. At the time of the attack there were over 50,000 employees working in those two buildings. So at the moment those towers were attacked, it was the workers who were directly impacted by this act of terrorism. The employees killed in the attack were basically collateral damage; as were the first responders who sacrificed their lives to save others. Those buildings were terrorist targets because they represented American wealth and power. The people who owned those buildings were not anywhere near those buildings. So when we remember those victims and the selfless heroes who sacrificed their lives to save them, let’s be clear. The average American workers were one with the American audience watching the events unfold on TV. The oligarch and plutocrats who owned the World Trade are exempted from this celebration of unity and oneness. And to add insult to injury, it took years for the police and firemen to receive compensation for their chronic health conditions caused from breathing the toxic fumes from that event. If we were truly one, then the government would have immediately provided assistance to those who gave their lives so willingly.