|I grew up during WWII.
I was 3 days away from my 4th birthday
when Pearl Harbor happened.
During the war, which we all followed
on the radio, there was a feeling that we ALL were in this together.
I remember the Scrap Metal Drives.
I and my buddies would go around
with our little wagons--house to house--collecting and mashing tin cans,
and any other metal objects we could "collect."
Periodically, there would be a 'pick
up in the neighborhood when a truck would visit and pickup the week's accumulation.
We would be there with our wagons
brimming, and feeling that we--ALL of US--were HELPING the War Effort.
And, in fact we were!
In the years since that time, I have
often lamented that "we will never, in this country, feel that sort of
Patriotism again; my kids will never know that special way of feeling--the
lump in the throat when the flag passes by, or when the National Anthem
Well, I was Wrong!
Everything: good or bad, good or
Evil, has some Redemption: For the first time since I was that little kid
jumping up and down--flattening those tin cans--I sense and feel that glorious
It's Back! --It is alive
A Letter from a friend, David
it is, Glen. I have
been amazed myself at the pulling together and the [...]
respect for what has happened.
Even in the BOJANGLES fast food joint
I was eating in at noon on Friday- everyone in the kitchen, at the counter,
in the dining room stopped and bowed their heads in silence as requested
by the President.
The thing that has amazed me the
most has been the support other countries are lavishing on our country-
The Queen of England ordering her own guard to play our national anthem
in front of a crowd of British citizens all waving American flags, some
even singing along, many crying... for the victims, for America.
One reporter on that scene told of
his nextdoor neighbor stopping him that morning to speak to the reporter
saying, "You yanks are ALWAYS there when you're needed... today I just
want to feel close to America. That was more than I could take... I lost
it for a few minutes.
A London paper today has a full front-page
photo of a tearful Queen Elizabeth, with the huge headline, "Tears For
I had my mouth open in disbelief
as I watched *200,000* (the equivalent of the entire population of Raleigh,
NC!!) German citzens honoring the victims and America at the Brandenburg
Gate- singing Amazing Grace together, again, all waving our Flag.
Canada military singing our National
Anthem in honor.... All of Europe and even Moscow stopping for 3 minutes
of silence in honor... I could go on and on....
I wish I could go to every leader
of every country that is honoring our people so, and say Thank You to them
personally. I know it sounds soggy, but I can't verbalize how touched I
have been by their sympathy and support, and I know I'm not the only American
that feels this way.
Who would have ever believed a week
ago that the world would now be so nearly completely unifed? Please, God
oh please, let us not forget, lest this not last!!!
A Letter to my Big Brother
Memorial Day, Sunday,
24 May 1998
I don't know if you wish someone--particularly
a Veteran-- "Happy Memorial Day" or not.
Watching several Memorial Day related
things on TV in recent days reminded me of "My" WWII days.
I remember the scrap metal drives,
the air raid drills--turning out all the lights, pulling the shades and
sitting in one room with the only illumination coming from a dim yellow
light bulb half of which was painted black.
And the Star hanging in the front
window--over the couch, telling the neighbors that My "Big Brother" was
Serving his/our Country.
Needless to say I was proud of my
Big Brother Harry!
Later as the War dragged on and the
endless parade of Soldiers being buried on a daily--sometimes twice daily--
basis; many with no Next-of-Kin, only Legionaries at graveside. (Thank
God for the Legionaries, at least they understood what these young men,
and their families had sacrificed).
It slowly dawned on me--what Mom
& Dad already knew-- that one day one of these brave young men could
be You. It was a realization--in a child's way of picturing the world--that
My Big Brother--My Hero --was truly in "Harm's Way," and that I might never
see him again. My nightly prayers became more than a childish recitation
from there on out.
I remember going to the movies and
watching my Heroes like John Wayne and Randolph Scott, single-handedly
winning the WAR. Sometimes the news reels would show something a little
closer to reality, and occasionally there would be shots of, what to me
then--as now --was the sadist sight in the world: scenes of a beach-head
were some of the guys never even made it to shore; they were floating in
the back water face-up, sometimes partially covered by sand. It was a picture
of "Promise that was to never be."
Then came the thing that every loved-one
cringed at the mere thought of: "The Telegram." --Boy how it Stung! But
at least You were still ALIVE!
Later we got news that you had won
the Purple Heart, and the Silver Star for "Gallantry in Action." Boy was
I proud of My Big Brother. He was a Hero!
In the many years since, I look back
at My childhood collection of Heroes: Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, John Wayne,
and years later, Barry Goldwater; and My Big Brother Harry.
Most "Heroes" can never live up to
that Word, and never wish to.
Reflecting back over my lifetime,
I try to think of who my REAL Heroes were. I realize that My Big Brother
Harry, had a Profound Impact on my life!
To Me You have been a Brother, a
"Father," a Role Model, and a Best Friend.
To God and Country, You are a Decent,
Honest and a Caring Son, Husband, Father, Brother, Friend, and Neighbor.
Sadly, too often the Real Heroes
go unrecognized--even by those closest.
Harry, this Memorial Day seems a
good time to tell You that you are My Hero, and that You have always been--whether
I have always known it at the time or not!
And, that your Medals have nothing
to do in making you that Hero, but are confirmation of that fact.
Thanks to You and your Comrades,
I never had to Fight a War. And --God Willing--my children will never have
to Fight a War. --For that, I Thank You!
I Love You Big Brother Harry, and
God Bless America.
Editorial from Miami Herald
Thursday, 13 September
By Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami
We'll go forward from this moment
It's my job to have something to
say. They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles
the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting
disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that
seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.
You monster. You beast. You unspeakable
What lesson did you hope to teach
us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us?
What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that
Did you want us to respect your cause?
You just damned your cause.
Did you want to make us fear? You
just steeled our resolve.
Did you want to tear us apart? You
just brought us together.
Let me tell you about my people.
We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social,
political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous,
yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae
-- a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse.
We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material
goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense
of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though -- peace-loving
and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And
we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in
a just and loving God.
Some people -- you, perhaps -- think
that any or all of this makes us weak. You're mistaken. We are not weak.
Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.
Yes, we're in pain now. We are in
mourning and we are in shock. We're still grappling with the unreality
of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand
that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't
the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel.Both in terms of the awful
scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks
are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of
the United States and, probably, the history of the world. You've bloodied
us as we have never been bloodied before.
But there's a gulf of difference
between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was
taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the
last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused,
we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by
this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to
any length, in the pursuit of justice.
I tell you this without fear of contradiction.
I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It
also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.
In the days to come, there will be
recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure
allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening
There will be heightened security,
misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment
sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.
THE STEEL IN US
You see, the steel in us is not always
readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by
people who don't know us well. On this day, the family's bickering is put
on hold. As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as
Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.
So I ask again: What was it you hoped
to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the
depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received.
And take this message in exchange:
You don't know my people.
You don't know what we're capable
You don't know what you just started.
But you're about to learn.