American spirit awakend on September 11


Last Friday while getting these pages set up to fill up, I found myself typing September 11 over and over again since that’s today’s date, and the dateline on this newspaper. Every time, it seems, that those letters and numbers flew from the ends of my fingers my mind flashed back to the year 2001 and the events of the day that made this day one that will never be forgotten.

It was a Tuesday, just like the one we had this week. I don’t recall if it was as hot as it is now or not, I dare say probably not. It was a beautiful clear day. I remember the sky being so blue, or perhaps it was because I saw that blue sky in the news footage so many times in the coming weeks, months, and years that it was etched into my memory.

We had just arrived at the office and started on our day. It was a deadline day just like Tuesday of this week was a deadline day.

Keyboards were clicking away. Pages were being put together. Everything seemed to be right on schedule and the phone rang. Lifelong friend Suzanne Willis was on the other end of the line and told me to turn on the television that two planes had just flown into the World Trade Center.

Everything changed in an instant.

In my office I had a little black and white television set from my college days and with a little finagling of the antenna we could get it to tune into WLBT Channel 3 in Jackson. The staff huddle around me at my desk and we watched in silence. We knew what was going on in our hearts, but our minds were telling us no. Our hearts were right!

Yes, tragically our hearts were correct and by the end of the day not only had the content of our paper changed, our lives, like those of all Americans, had changed forever.

All of the change, when you think about it, wasn’t the kind that made life more difficult like air travel, and gas lines, and that sort of thing though. No, it wasn’t all bad, there was also good. We Americans grew closer than ever in the days following September, 11, 2001. There were no labels of Democrat or Republican. We were all just Americans asking how, and where, do we go from here?

If my memory serves me correctly — sometimes it does not — the American flag was flying from every pole  and everything that could be made into a pole that September. Driving through the countryside or along the Interstate highway I was amazed at the number of vehicles, like mine, flying the flag from the radio antenna. Some folks reading this today may wonder how you can fly a flag from an antenna embedded in a windshield, so for all of you, cars and trucks used to have metal antennas sticking up like a flag pole from the front or rear fender, and they made a for a perfect place to hang a flag.

I do remember the flag shelves of stores like Walmart, Freds, Home Depot, and Lowes were barren and in a rush to satisfy the demand, factories were printing one-sided flags and Americans were snatching them off those shelves as quickly as they were replenished. I still have one of those and fly it on September 11 each year in honor of the American spirit awakened that day.

There were also signs in yards that read “never forget” and politicians on both sides of the aisle stood proudly in unison on the Capitol steps to sing God Bless America. There was no mention of the left or the right, no newscasts of bickering and infighting, no name calling or any of the stuff we see today.

There was patriotism and a common cause and it called for justice for the thousands that lost their lives on a beautiful, late summer day in September.

We could sure use some of that spirit these days. After all, these days are just like those days, but we Americans have just drifted apart. It’s time to wake up again America.