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More National Pride in US Following Terrorist Attacks - 2001-10-25

A new public opinion poll conducted after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. suggests Americans had increased feelings of national pride and confidence in their government. Americans also had more faith in their fellow citizens.

The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago began calling Americans nationwide about two days after the September 11 attacks. The center asked about 2,100 people how the attacks had affected them.

Survey co-author Kenneth Rasinski says 97 percent of people surveyed said they had stronger feelings of national pride, 77 percent had a great deal of confidence in the military, and about two-thirds said they considered their fellow Americans to be helpful and fair. "It is sort of a phenomenon that people pull together in a crisis, and this was a crisis of national proportion," he said.

About 500 of the people surveyed live in the New York area and their responses were kept separate from others. According to Mr. Rasinski, New Yorkers had similar feelings to the rest of the country when it came to national pride and faith in government, but New Yorkers were more likely to have felt physical symptoms as a result of the attacks. "Where people felt dazed or confused, they felt like they could not eat after the attacks, they could not sleep, they were restless and nervous and such," he said.

The researchers found half of the respondents made financial contributions to charities. More than $1 billion has been donated to various relief and disaster funds since in recent weeks.

The survey's authors compared the feelings of Americans after the attacks to those expressed in a similar survey conducted after President Kennedy's assassination in 1963. Mr. Rasinski recalls the Kennedy assassination made Americans feel more dazed, numb and nervous, while the September 11 attacks made a lot of Americans angry.

"Anger was the predominant response, huge amounts of anger, even more so than after Kennedy was assassinated," said Mr. Rasinski. "There [1963], apparently, there was some sort of feeling that this was a shameful thing. Here, very few people felt that was the case."

The National Opinion Research Center questions Americans about national pride and confidence each year in its General Social Survey. Mr. Rasinski says Americans' confidence in institutions like the U.S. Congress, organized religion and corporations is at its highest levels in nearly 30 years.