9/11 and E Pluribus Unum
September 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
Ten years later, among lingering feelings of shock and sadness, when I think of what happened over these few days in September 2001, a new but increasingly strong feeling rises up: nostalgia.
Just a few minutes after the first plane hit the towers a formidable, unstopable and swelling wave of unity started surging.
New Yorkers became one, brothers and sisters in courage, resilience, generosity and heroism.
Americans became one, in Washington, in small towns and cities, streets and workplaces. Politicians and anonymous citizens, rich and poor, near and far away, all became united, in their actions and in their hearts, silently and individually, with selflessness and conviction.
People around the world would hug and shake hands with every american they would encounter, sometimes opening their home for them to watch and share the news together. Perfect strangers would instantly reach out if they learned you were american and just because you were american.
In France , the national daily newspaper Le Monde had a headline: ” Nous sommes tous américains”, “We are all american”, on the front page of its September 13 issue.
My french family and friends would call and email us, at home, in my small town far away from ground zero, with messages of sympathy and compassion.
Spontaneous surges of solidarity would come up around the world in least expected places (I often think of the people of Gander, Newfounland for example)
No one asked, it wasn’t planned, it was just deliberate and in unison.
Why is it that it takes a terrible tragedy, thousands of death and thousands more shattered lives, to trigger such a powerful and beautiful act of humanity? We are one. Unconditionally .
Two feelings, one bad and one good but both overwhelming: sorrow for those affected and joy in being part of a united community.They had been rarely, if ever, so deep and so strong for me.
Murderous violence and universal generosity are odd together but they do go hand in hand sometimes.
That spontaneous unity is alas also historic now and this makes me feel nostalgic indeed.
E pluribus unum