The nation’s overnight metamorphosis

By Jessica Spriggs
November 1, 2001

As I was walking through the streets of Washington D.C., this weekend, with the Capitol, the White House and the newly destroyed Pentagon within view, I began to realize that an almost overnight metamorphosis has occurred, not only in our nations capitol, but throughout the entire country. People in general seem far more considerate of each other, extending smiles, opening doors and greeting passersby. What perplexes me and what I will never pretend to understand, is why it takes a tragedy such as the harrowing events of Sept. 11 to elicit this kindness in people, as well as evoke such an astounding display of patriotism?

I recall being in grammar school and high school, when the daily ritual every morning was to stand together as a class and recite “the Pledge of Allegiance.” Everyone mumbled the words as though they were being tortured. Now it is no surprise to turn on the radio and hear songs such as “God Bless America” or “America the Beautiful.” Stores cannot carry enough merchandise sporting Betsy Ross’s timeless design. Here on campus, students are displaying the flag on their doors and in their windows and are even incorporating it into their wardrobe. I remain perplexed by this phenomenon, which has occurred repeatedly throughout our country’s history. Why do we unite ignoring our political, religious, socio-economic and ethnic differences? What normally vacant dynamic of humanity allows us to stand together as “one nation, under God,” only when our freedom is threatened?

What is also baffling and never ceases to amaze me is when a celebrity figure makes a charitable contribution during a time of suffering and we hold them in reverence as though they have done something incredibly honorable or significant. I am not questioning their generosity, nor am I criticizing it; I am merely wondering why it is that they wait until the worst has actually happened before they offer help? Poverty, famine and disease have always existed but few celebrities have taken recognition of less glamorous tribulations.

Similar to the lack of liberality among the elite, I feel the average citizen has also failed to be charitable. Twice a year, Purple Heart calls my home and asks for clothing contributions, and twice a year I am too selfish to give anything away. In high school I remember having canned food drives, but I never wanted to lug a paper bag filled with Campbell’s soup or Chef Boyardee ravioli into the building when I had so many “more important” things to carry. Since September, people across the globe have been doing whatever they can to help. The Red Cross has even had to turn people away when they have volunteered to donate blood. I sincerely believe that if we can learn from and better ourselves from such a catastrophe, then it has not happened entirely in vain.

I am certain that I, personally, will never fail to remember the events of Sept. 11. I am aware that it has been publicized repeatedly and is becoming a topic that some have grown weary of hearing about. I simply feel that it is imperative to recognize the ways in which we as a nation have changed and matured. We must recognize how truly heartbreaking it is that such a heinous act of violence had to occur to rouse our awareness of the responsibility each one of us has to all other members of humankind.

Jessica Spriggs

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