How did we get here? Eleven years ago on the tenth day of September, we were, to an extent, care-free. Nothing could happen on domestic soil. If we were to talk about a terrorist attack in America, most people would think you were just talking about the latest blockbuster from Hollywood. Most people probably referred to celebrities, athletes, or comic book characters as their heroes. If asked, most people would have probably said we lived in a peaceful time.
Within a blink of an eye, the world, not just the United States, changed. We were shaken to our very core. It had really happened. New York had been attacked. A plane slammed directly into the north tower of the World Trade Center. We thought it was a terrible accident; then, the second tower was hit by an obvious passenger jet. We then found out that the Pentagon was also hit in the same manner. Then, another jet went down in a Pennsylvania field. We were floored. Everyone felt nothing but horror. Questions began to flow through many of our minds. Questions such as, “Where will they hit next?” “Who is behind this?” “How could this happen?” We wondered if Chicago, Houston, Atlanta or Los Angeles would be hit. We realized for the first time since the height of the Cold War that we were not indestructible. We watched from (what we used to think as) the safety of our homes and offices as cameras panned the collective disaster in progress. In what had become our rose-colored lives in many cases, we saw our fellow countrymen fall to their deaths. We had no clue how to react to the biggest disaster since that fateful day at Pearl Harbor. We were brought to a very rude and abrupt awakening.
Directly or indirectly, we were all impacted on that day. America became truly united. U.S. flag sales went through the roof. Churches were packed full. Politics were no longer politically left or right. We were simply one America. We had one cause – build America and defeat the enemy. No one could kill our spirit, as we stood united not as republican or democrats, southerners or northerners, but as Americans.
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? I apologize for the language but I cannot emphasize it enough. America has not been so strongly divided since the Civil War. We are no longer united – not even on Christmas. Our government and media have driven a wedge so far deep in our society that many people are understandably worried of another Civil War. Less than a year ago, most of us would have laughed at the idea of another Civil War; however, due to the past several months of a very dirty election season with very different ideas on all sides, uncontrolled spending of our government, and terrible foreign and domestic policies, the idea is still pretty extreme but no longer inconceivable.
We were literally attacked on the anniversary of one of the most tragic days in U.S. history and what is the government’s stance for several hours following the attacks? An apology. For hours, the official position of the United States government was a damn apology to the animals that attacked us. Had this happened to an embassy of a foreign power on our soil, it would have been considered an act of war. But wait! Not only did they replace and destroy our flag and attack us on internationally recognized American soil, they killed (at least) four people. One was the U.S. Ambassador. How is this not considered an act of war? I am no war-monger, but this is a huge deal. Our government is sending millions upon millions of our tax dollars to these countries, and mobs of their citizens attack us.
On the home front, television shows increasingly have plots and characters that shove anti-traditional American views down our throats, and if we do anything other than praise them, we are written off as intolerant and backward-thinking. This has happened to me just talking in larger groups. They shout and try to shut me down for talking about how I do not appreciate shows like Glee because of its obvious homosexual platform. It does not matter if you are a Conservative, Republican, Libertarian, conservative Democrat or whatever; if you don’t agree with the liberals, you are wrong and wicked, and you will be humiliated and torn down until you can do nothing but back down.
In a time not so long ago, we were more than proud to stand tall and recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the top of our lungs and continue on to sing, “Oh say can you see…” Children’s choirs around the country would sing patriotic compositions at every event and parents would bubble up with pride and get tears in their eyes for both the love for their children and love for their country. Men and women in uniform were among the most respected people in the country. Growing up, I knew I could go up to anyone in uniform – be it a policeman, fireman, soldier, or marine – and be completely safe and find help. What happened to these times? This was not a long time ago – not even ten years.
Now, children that do not want to recite the pledge do not have to do so because it might hurt their feelings. Many people do not see a reason for singing the national anthem anymore because it promotes America and demonstrates how we are greater than everyone else; instead Michael Jackson’s “Heal The World” is a better choice because we want to be citizens of a big, happy, peaceful world and not promote American elitism and imperialism that got America to where it is today – the world power and shining city on a hill that represents freedom and prosperity to all other less fortunate people. Children are not allowed to sing patriotic songs because they are apparently no longer age appropriate; instead, we will sing about a teenage romance at kindergarten graduation. Our service men and women have been reduced to the scum of the earth in many people’s eyes. They have been called every name in the book. The people that protect our country and the ideas that make the U.S. better and more successful than any other country in history are slandered as being uneducated, intolerant, poor, war-mongers, baby-killers, and rapists. They also tell us not to trust the police because they are only looking out for themselves and do not care about you – and they are all racists.
A big topper is the two grassroots movements that have bloomed in the past few years. One, the Tea Party, has (more-or-less) set goals and has been clean and peaceful. It was also successful in turning over the House of Representatives to Republican control and increasing GOP presence in the Senate. It is still alive and kicking in a very efficient and working manner. However, the media has painted its participants extremist and potentially dangerous to American security. Talking heads and Democrat followers, more-or-less, claim that the Tea Party wants to take America back to the Birmingham and Selma of the early sixties and Chicago in the early twentieth century with old, outdated, failed plans and policies.
The other movement, Occupy Wall Street, has next to no set goals and has been destructive and disruptive. It failed to do anything in government other than getting a thumbs-up from the President and other top liberals. It is still alive, but it is extremely unorganized and attendance is dwindling greatly compared to its prime several months ago. However, its participants were painted as brave, patriotic Americans looking to better everyone’s future with wonderful and innovative ideas.
Let us take a quick trip back to Obama’s first year. It was fairly early in the Tea Party movement and the media was still trying to paint it as bad as they could. If that does not prove to that there is a major bias in the media, I bet you have lost an argument with a brick wall before, haven’t you?
I guess I better stop before I completely lose myself in a rant longer than Homer’s Odyssey. To conclude, I am asking you to think of how we can all help to reunite our beloved country and act on it. Do not be afraid to be proud of your country. Teach your children to love America. When reciting “The Pledge,” don’t do it half-heartedly but show your American pride by making sure you are heard. Next time you go to a ballgame, stand and sing the national anthem with the band. Hey y’all, remember to thank the men and women in uniform. Unlike Chicago teachers, they are underpaid, work extremely long hours, and actually sacrifice. And shall we never forget the united America we had after the 9/11 attacks. We can do so much more when we are united than when we are divided.
Ben Strong (20), attends Troy University. He is a TPU Staff Writer