America on Its Own
I spent this past Tuesday, 9/11/18, in solemn remembrance of that day.
In many ways, the United States are still recovering -- alone -- from those attacks. If other nations presently, but incorrectly, perceive America now as America Only, it's mostly because we were forced into this position on 9/11 as America Alone. We are a generous nation, but watching Western Europe turn against us while we faced our enemies is something not easily forgotten.
As a native Northeasterner, I felt 9/11 in ways that others around me in California did not. I stoically understood the differences in response among the patriotic. I felt only a sense of disgust and outrage toward the despicable indifference of the unpatriotic, those self-absorbed, shallow individuals whom I shall never understand. I no longer try; they’re not worth the effort.
For me, that day was not only one of horrific tragedy, it was a day of agonizing reckoning with the reckless in this country. The reckless despise their own nation. They despise themselves. They receive far too much attention, and perhaps always will. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Lately, the squeaks are vociferous and violent.
During the week after 9/11, it was heartening for me to try to buy ribbons in red, white, and blue so that I could create my own pin of allegiance to my country; and to be told that all of the ribbons in those colors were sold out: I could be placed on a waiting list. The wait was one of patience for me and my family.
It was heartening for me to buy an enameled red-white-and-blue pin from QVC, a company located about 200 miles from Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It was also heartening for me to purchase a CD of The Three Tenors, hauntingly beautiful music that was recorded in a studio in my home state of New Jersey during those awful weeks after America was attacked by Islamic fanatics in airplanes.
It was horribly disheartening for me and my young family to attend a church service where 9/11 was not even mentioned. The walking out of that aging hippie church was a patriotic duty that I most willingly fulfilled.
I’ve moved this far from my tears on 9/11 — to a time of calm contemplation of a day that signaled reality to the people who were willing to deal with reality. It’s not a matter of where you were when 9/11 happened. It’s a matter of how you were.
For the Americans who love their country, that day will always feel sorrowful, and wretchedly so. The sensation of grief is less raw than it has been, at least it is for me. The historic events that have transpired since The War on Terror was finally officially acknowledged — those occurrences have not erased the harrowing sensation of America on its own. In many ways, that sensibility will always be with us, the patriots of this proud land.
That sense of horrible loss for so many Americans has been soothed by our acceptance of America on its own. We perhaps had been too unwilling to exert our forceful independence in this world as the lone superpower, not out of guilt or modesty or even the isolationism that rears its ugly head from time to time to threaten this powerful country. Independence is best experienced as a choice, not a stance one must take in order to survive.
Independence does not mean alone-ness, and, in truth, we are not alone, ever. God is always with us. But many democratic nations woefully are not with us. The belief, or presumption, that our nation possessed the good will of the nations we’d sacrificed to save during previous wars: that belief was rudely trampled upon in ways that were insultingly hurtful, at first, for many Americans to define. In deed, those transgressions were amply defined by the nations themselves, showing their true colors during the past 17 years.
During the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was in the United States an almost palpable sense of betrayal by our World War II Allies. I did not join the boycott of French goods, but I understood the ire of the Americans who did. I did not comprehend my compatriots who wanted to retrieve from Normandy the gravestones of the American dead. Blood shed for liberty is blood shed for liberty. You can’t retroactively get a transfusion from the sacred soil of France back to the States.
Personally, I felt quite challenged to continue teaching the language and history of France to my son, who was at that time a high-school-freshman in home-schooling. I felt not anger or disgust at the French, but I did experience a profound misery, a mournful sense of a loved one committing almost irreparable damage to herself. I realized that La France had been great. She would bloodily writhe to rise to greatness again.
Many American political pundits mocked La France, one of them cynically sneering, “Sink the French fleet.”
I was not aware of the French fleet having been sunk. Neither was my son. As an academic exercise, but also because my curiosity was piqued, we researched the historic incident. Those facts from World War II went into a mental file that eventually became THE DAWN.
I understand the hostility of my fellow countrymen toward the UK and Western Europe regarding a unified lack of support of the United States in the War on Terror, and in just about everything American. I understand their moral outrage toward democratic nations that currently protect barbarians at the expense of their own citizens. I even understand the fatalism of Americans who believe those nations of Western Europe are doomed, finished, through, kaput. I must, however, posit this question:
Isn’t their position more honest?
Those nations are now forced to survive on their own against the barbarians who slaughtered nearly 3,000 on 9/11 and who have since slaughtered millions on the battlefields and off. Because the battlefield is now everywhere.
Since we’ve become America on our own, our former allies must survive on their own. It’s more just. And it’s about time.