News / USA

Americans Focus on National Unity on September 11 Anniversary

As Americans prepare to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, public opinion polls suggest the country is in a pessimistic mood, largely because of the domestic economy.  A recent Time Magazine poll found 71 percent of Americans see the U.S. as worse off than it was a decade ago, and a recent Gallup poll found that 88 percent of those asked are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.  But  there are Americans hoping to rally national unity as the country prepares to mark the anniversary of that terrible day in September.

Arlington, Virginia, firefighter Derek Spector has no trouble recalling where he was on September 11, 2001.  

“We were actually dispatched for a fire in Rosslyn [Virginia] and as we were getting ready to leave on that call, we heard the plane just prior to it hitting the Pentagon," Spector said.  "And when we were getting on the rig we actually felt the concussion wave roll through the fire station after it had struck the Pentagon.”

Spector was among the first firefighters to respond to the attack on the Pentagon. He recently took part in a 9/11 memorial motorcycle ride honoring those who perished in the attacks and the police and firefighters who responded that day.

Spector helped to raise what is known as the Patriot Flag, a huge American flag that has been flown in all 50 states to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11 and the soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I think it symbolizes everything that is good about this country," he said. "Take away politics, take away parties, we are still Americans, we still hold this country at value, no matter what we say or no matter what we do.  Deep down we still believe in this country and we hold this country at value.”

Bob McGovern, with the St. James, N.Y. Fire Department, holds the American Flag while waiting for a piece of steel to be loaded on a flatbed truck at John F. Kennedy International Airport, June 16, 2011 in New York.

National unity


These small efforts at national unity come at an opportune time, says pollster and political strategist Mark Penn.

“It has really been seven years now that people think that things in the country are off on the wrong track and most people think that this has been a decade of decline for America since 9/11,” Penn said.

The hoped-for national unity in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks never really came, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.

“There was a little window right after the attacks when this country was as unified as it has been probably since Pearl Harbor.  But that quickly went away and we have had a very, very split country,” Brown said.

Divisions over wars abroad and security measures at home have taken a toll, says Clifford May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“Well, we are very divided and unfortunately I would say on issues of national security, an area where I would like to see the two parties come together, we are and have been divided for a very long time,” May said.

Pollster Mark Penn says Americans are more united than they often appear.

“Underneath there is also a lot of common belief that this is a great country and though it may be going through some rough times, there is also a great sense of underlying common values than we have almost never seen before,” Penn said.

Patriotism


Among those promoting the theme of unity is retired New York City firefighter Joe Torillo.  He rushed to the World Trade Center on September 11 and managed to survive the collapse of both towers.

“I became the spokesman for that Patriot Flag and my desire or my quest after being dug out from under the south tower is that I live the rest of my life making this country the ‘Reunited States of America’ because of the day of September 11th that challenged our fortitude, you know, and our strength,” Torillo said.

Torrillo has spoken about his 9/11 experience all across the country, and the Patriot Flag has now flown in all 50 states.  On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the flag will be flown at the three sites of the attacks in 2001 - the World Trade Center site, known as Ground Zero, in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked airliners crashed.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid