I don’t usually wear my patriotism like a protective cloak, but I will post this after the 15th anniversary of 9/11. An appropriate time to reflect, don’t you think?
I’ve always been proud of my country and the ideals on which it was founded. I still am. I am not proud of how my government officials act, and that might be the subject of another post at some later time. I believe in what my country stands for, not the oft-shouted pronouncement about which political candidate reflects America’s values more. Rather, I believe in the hopes expressed by our Founding Fathers. None of our current crop of candidates reflect the great ideals from the time of our founding. Instead, most of them espouse their narrow interpretation worthy of their worship of their own graven images.
My country has survived so many dark times. In my own lifetime, we’ve had the Kennedy assassination, the war in Vietnam, laws legislating the end of the shame of Jim Crow, the way our forces were treated when they came back from Vietnam, 9/11, more.
My country has been attacked from within. Let us never forget that Timothy McVeigh was a blue-eyed blond, a right-wind extremist who sought to make a political statement by bombing a Federal building in Omaha. One with a daycare center full of children.
Foreign extremists tried to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993 only to discover that a weak car bomb set off in the parking garage wouldn’t bring the towers down. It took a coordinated foreign effort of hijacked planes to destroy the Twin Towers, damage the Pentagon and crash in a field in rural Pennsylvania after brave passengers formulated a plan to bring down their plane. After a vote of the passengers, a group upset the plans to bomb the Capitol (we think) and saved our government from further damage.
Even after these grand attacks and a series of smaller one by terrorists and home-grown misfits that drive up body counts, I believed my country could rebound. After so many attacks and after much good will pouring in from all over the world, I thought, hoped that we’d find a way to put the hate behind us. Cosmic dis-ease seemed manageable. Now, I wonder if it is.
Cosmic hatred prevails around the world. Hate speech in the U.S. is protected by our Constitution. Bombings occur all too frequently, often masked by ideology but more likely covering up venal plans to take control of a portion of society or part of a country for person gain or self-aggrandizement.
Now that hate speech has become acceptable, cosmic dis-ease grows exponentially. We feel safe denigrating people of a different color or religion and hide behind the rubric of wanting to be brutally honest. No more political correctness. No more manners. No more “agreeing to disagree.”
I’m more fearful for my country. Until Saturday, Sept. 10th, that is. At the Navy football game. On the day before 911, the flyover, the singing of the National Anthem with thousands of people standing respectfully, of the fans standing in honor of the passing of the colors–all were crystallized into a power feeling of hope.
These young men and women of the cadet corps are our future military and industrial leaders. Their willingness to be unabashedly patriotic made me and my friends pause and reflect. That’s standard fare at a military academy football game.
What was unusual was a minute of silence for the souls lost on 9/11. The stands were silent. I mean, 25,ooo+ standing, motionless. Tears flowed freely.
And in that minute of reflection, happiness and hope filled my soul. My country may be dented, may have deep wounds that need to be healed, but it stood strong and proud at that moment, united with a strength of mutual commitment to survive and do better.
I left the stadium a little lighter in spirit, a little straighter of spine, a little more optimistic.
Oh, Navy won. Thank you for asking.
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I’m really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.