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.


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora