September 11th and the Rebirth of the American Spirit

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September 11th and the Rebirth of the American Spirit

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

America is nearing the first anniversary of the greatest tragedy ever to come upon us: the September 11th Al Qaida terrorist attacks mounted on our own shores using our own technology. By now all Americans are forced to reconcile our feelings about this terrible date in history with what we should do about it. How will we portray these events to our children, and grand-children? How will we teach our students? How will we live with the memories of these things in our own lives both now and in the distant future?

For many of us, September 11th is a date that is both impossible to forget, as well as one we dare not forget. Forgetting would dishonor the memories of our relatives, friends and neighbors who died, struggled, rescued and gave so much. It would be an open invitation to others who hate us to do the same things or worse. An even greater tragedy would be for us to roll back asleep, pretending the danger is past, and evil men are not ever present, requiring constant diligence from us.

Others prefer to forget - not out of laziness, or lack of vigilance, but out of a fear that the American spirit might retreat into morbidity. These good Americans see the anxiety of our times; the tendency to look for malicious beings in every soul with a different opinion, like children shrinking from monsters under the bed. Would it not be better, they say, to acknowledge the tragedy of the past year, work through the stress with counseling and then move forward? Why should we dwell on the terrible events of the past? Rather we should pull up our socks, be brave, and go about our business: the business of building America for the future.

There is great merit to both sides of this issue. Nothing is mutually exclusive in either one of these approaches. The world's history is replete with tragedy. As Americans we can look back through history and learn how others have responded in similar situations.

In every society, humanity has born with such pain by memorializing those lost, and paying homage to the heroes and rescuers. Then, moving beyond the pain, we have celebrated the newness of life and the undefeated human spirit arising out of tragedy.

These same amazing patterns of regeneration can be found in every culture throughout history. It is clear that this is how we are designed. There is a resiliency to the human spirit that allows us to bounce back and grow stronger. We can't flee the pain, but we can grow through it and help heal others.

The further we move away from 9/11, the more we will see the same grieving and healing processes taking place in our own society. We will discover more and more constructive paths by which we can bolster the generations following us.

Brick and mortar has been torn down. But the American spirit is being rebirthed anew. There is life after death, healing after pain, and joy truly does come in the morning after the agony of a long, hard night.


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


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