9/11 Brought Out the Best in Us
We were pruning trees that morning in Pinehurst. It was a beautiful morning, and the air was crisp and clean.
And then our customer was in the yard, and he said to me, “Get your guys and come quickly. There’s something on the television you need to see.”
Not imagining anything could be that important, I said we were much too dirty to come inside his house.
“Never mind that,” he said. “Come now!”
We took off our boots and went into his living room where his wife and son sat, mouths open and staring vacantly at the screen. And we looked, and our mouths fell open too, and no one said a word.
Much later, it occurred to me that the solidarity we all felt after 9/11 began as the attacks unfolded, right there, in places like my customer’s living room. He knew instinctively that we needed to be together. Not as homeowners with a tree crew out in the yard, but as one family, like a band of brothers, united and unbreakable.
This phenomenon occurred all over the country that extraordinary day. We came together like only so many times before. And that spirit held — briefly.
When I think of those who lost their lives on 9/11, the first responders, the firemen, the police, the rescue squads and those left behind, and juxtapose that day against today, and the way we’re speaking to one another, I am ashamed.
I am disgusted by Maxine Waters, telling tea party activists to “go to hell.” I am revolted by Congressman Andre Carson’s claim that the tea party supports lynchings. I am sickened by Joe Biden’s aside that tea party members are terrorists. And Jimmy Hoffa? You think real America is about your unions being at war with the tea party? That your unions are the armies of Obama — “to take these sons of bitches out”? Pathetic!
So what happened to the solidarity we all felt after 9/11? Daniel Henninger, writing in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, explains it this way: “The accord in the post-attack period had no chance of standing up to the most powerful force in American life right now: party politics.”
Maybe, but that doesn’t explain the misdirected hysteria at the tea party. But this does. In the same day’s opinion section appeared “The Obama Presidency by the Numbers,” by Michael J. Boskin. The piece included a fully sourced chart called “Records Set on Obama’s Watch.”
- U.S. sovereign debt downgrade: first in American history
- Federal spending (25 percent of GDP): highest since WW2
- Budget deficit (10 percent of GDP): highest since WW2
- Federal debt (67 percent of GDP): highest since just after WW2
- Employment (58.1 percent of population working): lowest since 1983
- Long-term unemployment (45.9 percent of total): highest since 1930s
- Increase in nonfarm payroll employment (0.5 percent) since recovery began 26 months ago: slowest job growth 26 months after a severe recession since WW2
- Home-ownership rate (59.7 percent): lowest since 1965
- Percentage of taxpayers paying income tax (49 percent): lowest in modern era
- Government dependency (47 percent), defined as the percentage of persons receiving one or more federal benefit payments: highest in American history.
Admittedly, most of these historic records were contributed to by previous administrations and congresses. The president constantly reminds us of that when he blames everyone but himself for our troubles. But on his watch, Keynesian big government prescriptions for recovery out of a recession threw gas on the fires, and have failed.
Out of 435 congressmen, about 40 are tea party members. Most are freshmen who aren’t even sure of their way around the Capitol yet. The party itself was only born in 2009. Maxine, Joe, Jimmy, Andre: We understand your anger. It must be frustrating to know deep down that it’s your own political ideology that’s failing our nation, not the tea party. Please have the decency to curb your tongues and look a little closer to home for the source of your anger.
Not likely. So let’s the rest of us ignore this bunch, their race-baiting and attempts at class warfare, and try to reclaim the spirit we felt on this day 10 years ago. Let’s know that as tragic as it was, it brought out the best in us.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
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