The memory of 9/11. It was the deep crack and wound in the sky-reaching pride of Americans and the turning point of numerous changes in US politics, diplomacy, society and the civil perception of Americans. Last weekend I’ve been to New York, and our visit to the 9.11 memorial left a deep impression on me. More accurately speaking, I could not take my eyes apart from the sentence on the wall of the 9.11 memorial, “I love NY(or maybe it was US) more than ever”.
What Americans seemed to focus on after the 9.11 or at least, when making the 9.11 memorial, was the aftermath of 9.11 rather than putting more emphasis on what went wrong on countering terrorism and what they could have done maybe to prevent or try to predict the catastrophic crisis. All such photos taken from the scene, video tapes that showed the details about 9.11, quotes and sayings, objects and analysis, explination tried to direct the visitor to see how US could reconstruct from the ashes of 9.11, find hopes from the sadness, to finally, seeking victory from the tragedy.
Still, in spite of all such efforts, 9.11 was the result of the shortcoming of national security and defense. Although the government was working on counter terrorism, and 9.11 was quite unpredictable, the innocent lives of the nearly 3,000 victims of the disaster attributes to the lack of security ensurance in the government. The reason Osama bin laden, islamic fundamentalist forces triggered such a crisis was to drive away american influence – political and economical, societal – from the islamic territory.
Overall, the impression I got from the memorial was that I could really feel and appreciate the positive effort of the US people trying together, to overcome the hardship the tragedy brought, through hope, love, comfort and patriotism. How people reacted in response to this catastrophe really showed the admirable attitude and mature citizenship of Americans, and I found a lot could be learned of the aftermath dealing of the US government too. Still, after reading the quote on the wall of the 9.11 memorial “I love NY more than ever”, one of the small questions that arose in my mind was, how the government could actually try to ‘ask of’ US citizens to love New York or US more than ever. Although in respect to the achievement of social integration, could a state demand patriotism from its people?
Adding to this story is what I once heard about, the prejudice many europeans have about US. That Americans are full of pride and patriotism to their country. You can really detect this once you walk around the streets in the US – obviously including the DC – and see that a lot of US flags are hung on the shops or buildings, even when it is not a national holiday or anything related. The national image of US seems very much branded even through the daily life stuffs, such as through cups, hats, bags or shirts.
What does ‘patriotism’ mean to Americans? How much importance does the social integrity have and the most desirable way in which it could be achieved in America, the melting pot of various cultures? The essay I wrote today might have turned out to be quite serious and contentious, but I believe answering these questions might point out one of the routes to an in-depth understanding about American culture and society, and the Americans.