September 11th and Our National Identity

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September 11th and Our National Identity

Copyright © 2002 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

Why should we not forget September 11th - the anniversary of the terrorist Al Qaida attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? Do we have an obligation to memorialize that date in American history so that all future generations will be reminded of it? To answer these questions we need to review who we are as a people.

September 11, 2001 was much more than an attack on our own soil. It was an attack on our way of life, and on the freedom of all people. It was the attempt of a fear-mongering regime to force us into subservience to those who hate American liberty. Clearly there are more issues involved than this, but at the root of the matter lies our freedom to follow the dictates of our own consciences rather than the external control of religious or political dictators.

We must preserve the integrity of our national identity and not forget September 11th. We would not be remiss to set up a perpetual memorial to those who gave their lives on that day. Neither would it be out of place to celebrate the resilience of the American spirit that we saw in the days and months following 9/11.

Our identity as Americans is multi-faceted. Yet it can be boiled down to one great idea: the freedom of conscience. Political and religious freedom is a concept developed throughout Western history. But it has it's apex in the American Revolution, and is embodied in the nation that rose from the ashes of the past.

History bears testimony to the value of memorial celebrations in solidifying groups, and even nations.We may take our cue from them. Through memorial celebrations we acknowledge the pain of the past, offer homage to those who struggled and died for our freedoms, and take courage from their examples as we build a new and positive future.

We have all heard the phrase "Remember the Alamo". Strangely, a search online for "Alamo" brings up nearly everything but the battle of the Alamo in 1836. Apparently, the Alamo is little remembered today.

The Alamo was a duel of heroes willing to give the ultimate sacrifice, (their lives), for the sake of liberty against despotism (embodied in the regime of Mexican General Santa Anna). (See That is why we remember the Alamo!

The scourge of slavery and the triumph of freedom are memorialized in the Juneteenth Day celebrations in most communities across our country. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Lincoln in 1863, it took more than two years to remove slavery from it's last stronghold in Galveston, Texas. All remaining slaves were allowed to go free on June 19, 1865, bringing an end to this immoral American institution. (See for more.)

Who can forget the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma on April 19, 1995? Forgetting these events opens us up to their recurrence. As a community, and as a nation we must always stand on guard. We remember the past so as to protect the future. (for more on the OKC memorial see

A still greater goal in our memorial celebrations is the knitting together of such a diverse people. September 11th strengthened and cemented our national unity and resolve. We have a renewed sense of "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One). Though we differ in many ways, we agree on more than we disagree. That more is our desire, our struggle, for true freedom of conscience.

Our "creed" declares our national unity. We grew up quoting "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" (the Pledge of Allegience, q.v.,

No longer should we see Black or White; Asian, European, African, or Native American first. We see Americans first. No longer Republican, Democrat, or Independent; no longer Christian, Muslim or Jew; nor German, Irish, Chinese, Mexican, or French.

Whatever our respective identities are, we have a national identity as well. We have one common goal and desire: that we may preserve the freedom bought for us by the blood of those who preceeded us. This identity is born like a child out of painful labor, but we are stronger now by the grace of God than we were before.

Since 1905 the site of the Alamo has been preserved by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas "as a sacred memorial to the heroes who immolated themselves upon this hallowed ground".

It is just as appropriate that we "Remember the Twin Towers" as a sacred memorial to the heroes that were immolated upon that sacred ground. This can be the first new step we take in celebrating our national identity as "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


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