Before a summer's last sun could set, the fall of two tall towers cast a pale shadow of peril over every American home. Then came the iconic photo. Upon the rubble of two fallen towers, three fearless firefighters raised a flag. They could not know they had lit a torch to light the skies and lift the spirit of every county in the country.
By week’s end, a wave of patriotism not seen since the end of the Second World War was everywhere on display. It raced westward like a wind-propelled fire on a parched forest floor. No commentator could miss or mistake it, as personally unacquainted with the phenomenon as he or she may previously have been. Many told us how hard it was to find words adequate enough to describe the enormity of our sorrow. Few in the media even looked for words to explain the pain-mitigating pride that bravely battled the awful hurt in our hearts.
So, why patriotism? Deep grief over the terrific loss of life, a blinding rage over the terrorists’ success, even a consuming thirst for vengeance would need no further explanation. But there was something else at work. Americans who so proudly displayed the American flag did so to express their abiding devotion to "the republic for which it stands," aka "this Sweet Land of the Free." We love this land so much because, more than any other, it allows its citizens to live and be left alone. Do not think Americans have lost their love for Liberty; there is little we prize and cherish more. Yes, in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we tend to take the things we treasure for granted. And as always, the full depth of the love is only felt upon their loss.
In a flash, terror fatally struck the pleasant routine of daily life. Three thousand died just for going to their jobs that morning. And, it wasn't just about the dead and grieving. Terror struck us all. For as it was said so often in the ensuing days, "if we do not feel safe we cannot feel free." Americans overwhelmingly supported the war on terror and joined the armed forces in droves to ensure the safety of their parents, wives, and children.