Sept. 23, 2001
Pick any American city or any town, drive up one street, drive down another, and what you will almost certainly see is flags cloth flags waving in whatever breeze there might be and maybe paper flags pasted to windows.
It's a sign of our unity and concern for one another, just as our attendance of special worship services attests to both our sense of community and quest for the highest possible meaning of things.
America today is a nation with a purpose the eradication of terrorism and a nation as unified as it has been in the lifetimes of many of us. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani whose leadership in this crisis has been something on the order of heroic said on TV that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center had caused the United States to embrace New York City as never before. He permitted himself a smile, for, as he noted, the city and the rest of the country have sometimes seemed two distant lands.
As U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering noted the other day, Congress is as truly bipartisan as seems humanly or politically possible. Democrats and Republicans, appearing on the same interview shows, seem to agree on virtually everything. There was little hesitation in granting President Bush large powers to respond militarily to the terrorist attack.
There are differences now, of course. While they are mostly submerged, they will at some point be more visible both among the population at large and in Congress. That is inevitable, and it is not entirely a bad thing. A lack of debate can mean a lack of thought. Out of democratic contest, good policies can eventuate, whereas smooth sailing can sometimes take boats over a waterfall.
But there is something splendid about our coming together and the civility of the hour, and the hope has to be that we as a nation can continue to evince our essential oneness as we go against a common enemy.