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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora