Sunday, September 11, 2011

Noman Celebrates America

Why do choruses of America the Beautiful make Noman weep?  Why does the sight of the flag choke him up, rouse him to pride, make him thank God?  Because Noman is (admittedly) a passionate Hispanic who loves America.

To  him it stands for great things--goodness, freedom, bounty, opportunity, right order, home--things worth loving passionately.

He chooses to remember the towers the way they were, the way they are in his heart and will be forever, not in the condition madmen left them.

Osama Bin Laden, et al. struck at America to wreck it.  He didn't.  He just made Noman love it more.  He made all patriotic Americans love it more.

9/11 even made American patriots of other countries' people.  Noman gratefully remembers their heartfelt expressions of condolensce and affection.

Noman would even go so far as to say that if 9/11 didn't make some citizen love America more--if his first thought was to his group or politics, or how to spin the event, rather than of those in harm's way and his countrymen--he lacks the patriot's heart that beats in the breast of his neighbors.  America will always be an enigma to him.  It will always be foreign soil.

Noman lived in Barcelona when 9/11 happened, and was ironically in the air on the way to Rome to deliver a paper at the Vatican when the planes struck.  The attack made him want to come home.

Europeans always commented, usually admiringly, at the frequent public expressions of patriotic fervor in America, something lacking in their dissipated homelands.  It is hard to explain American patriotism, which is unusual in the world.

American unity is not predicated on a sense of difference from others--be it of language, culture, coloration, etc.--as European nationalism is.  Perhaps for some purposes allegiance to rudiments, an idea, a vision, a telos is better than attachment to history, blood, land, language or other cultural artifact.

On the way to mass today, No-family passed a firetruck which had hoisted gigantic American flags upon its extended ladders.  It took only a horn blast to ignite a chorus of prolonged honking and waves.

At mass, the congregation applauded uniformed first respondes who were asked to stand in order to receive acknowledgement.  Noman's heart overflowed with love, gratitude and admiration for these men and their willingness to serve others despite risk to self.

Ten years later, 9/11/11 is a day of triumph, not sorrow.  This is America!  Our country is full of people like those first responders, and Noman celebrates it.  Thank you, God, for making him an American.

Though it's cliche to say, the Osamas of the world will never kill our hearts, or spirit, try as they might for whatever reasons.

America is exceptional.  It is good.  It is free.  And by the grace of God, it will die neither in a whimper nor in shock at whatever enormity some madman devises.  

The 9/11 hijackers struck first at America's financial might, as if what really bothered them was less our soldiers in their lands and culture in their minds than our confounded prosperity.

They realized that the economic freedom animating American capitalism is the fulcrum of America's military might and political liberty; it is the psychological cradle of American exceptionalism, optimism.

They struck at that first before turning on the Pentagon and White House.  The sequence is telling.

By the time they lashed out at America's political Capitol, Americans had figured out the game and decided to take control of it.  Americans make bad victims.  We're too independent and action-oriented for it.  We are free and encouraged by our political economy to think and act for ourselves.

Despite inequalities and mistakes--maladies hardly unique to the United States--the American experiment in ordered liberty has illumined the path to a life that mankind has searched for since the garden of eden: the opportunity to participate in the common good and live with human dignity; the right to live on one's feet and not on one's knees; the effective chance predicated on effort for a livable present and brighter future for oneself and one's loved ones, especially the children.

Noman is blessed to be part of it as is every American whether she appreciates it, is proud of it, or not.

He prays that America never goes broke or capitulates to voices cajoling it to become just like every other country; that it forever remains the shining city on a hill: proud, thankful and apostolic.  

Please God, bless those who died ten years ago in the spasm of hatred and misplaced religious zeal we commemorate today.  Forgive us our sins--victims and perpetrators alike.

And especially, God, bless America.

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