edited: Tuesday, September 25, 2001
By Jeff Pate
Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2001
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We need to fight the war against terrorism at home while our military braces for the battles overseas. Go out and buy something! Invest in our country's businesses.
This past Sunday I’d planned to take my 12-year old daughter to a concert featuring a popular boy band—a ritual very common during her “formative pre-teen years.” Although I wasn’t thrilled about being among hundreds of screaming adolescents, I knew my daughter wanted to go; therefore, I decided to “tough it out” despite my personal tastes in music. But, the day before, to my daughter’s extreme disappointment and to my own shocking dismay, we learned that the concert had been cancelled. I wasn’t disappointed by the fact the concert had been called off, but for the reasons behind it. According to officials at the venue, the parents of the band members (all members are under age sixteen) refused to let the band fly—all because of the recent tragedies involving terrorism.
What had been a slowly simmering stew of outrage in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and to the increasingly emerging aura of fear permeating throughout our country, quickly became outrage and discontent with the American people. Why are we giving in to what these terrorists wanted to accomplish with their attacks? Why has the economy plummeted to an all-time low in just the short week following the tragedies? Why are the stores empty? Why are the airlines laying off thousands of employees because everyone is afraid to fly? Why are we running around scared that our money and livelihood are in jeopardy? What has caused these events?
The answer can be delivered in a variety of ways, in political rhetoric, media spin, or in simple plain English, but it’s always the same, regardless of the terminology. It’s an answer that Americans do not want to admit, but in light of what’s happening in this country, it’s the correct answer. The answer is that Americans are scared.
We’ve been hurt in a way no one has ever hurt us—not the Japanese, nor any other foreign entity whose primary aim was to destroy the American way of life. Only during the American Civil War did we suffer so much in terms of loss of life in one day. And in what seems to be an ironic parallel, we’re creating our own casualties, much like Antietam, by running scared, canceling travel plans, selling stocks, not buying cars, etc. This doesn’t look like the acts of Americans—the people whose blood richens the soil of most every country in Europe and of this country—the people who are looked upon for strength by the outside world—the people who stand up in the face of fear and adversity and prevail.
Most of us seem (and I use “seem” literally) to be doing our part—donating blood, money, and flying the Stars and Stripes on our houses, cars, and businesses, and we seem to be getting along better, standing united in solidarity against the evil of terrorism. It’s all an effort for us to feel good about making a contribution to the cause, but deep down, some of us aren’t sincere. We’re standing united, but at a cautious distance.
As the military makes speedy preparation for war, as the police, fire, and rescue workers continue to sift through the rubble in New York and Washington, even professional sports have resumed their schedules, and as most American business owners are trying to conduct business as usual—ever mindful of the heart-wrenching tragedies—everyday Americans are afraid to venture out of their neighborhoods, cities, and states and make the greatest contribution they can make. While others are risking their lives—a duty they accept as American citizens, some Americans are afraid to go to the mall or the movies.
War has been declared on the United States and the response of the American people is to panic in fear, thereby acknowledging that the attacks were effective, and further contributing to the detriment of the economic and patriotic status of this country. If we continue to stay in our proverbial shells and let these terrorists achieve affecting our way of life—a life attained at the sacrifice of thousands of patriots from the American Revolution to the Gulf War and every person in between who gave their lives for the sake of freedom, they will win.
It’s time for the American people to declare our own war—a war fought in the stores, in restaurants, on airplanes, in the stock markets, and across every road and highway in this great land. Not since the Great Depression have Americans faced such adversity. During that struggle, the American people stood up in the face of despair, stared down the eyes of evil, and banded together, all the time, never giving up on the founding ideals of this country: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To quote the great patriot Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Today’s Americans need to do the same thing—if the term “united we stand” has any significance now, we need to stand united and live our lives like Americans—vigilant in the face of danger, unwavering to the threat of terrorism, prevailing over evil, and showing the world that we are the greatest people who live in the greatest land in the world.