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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid