Look Into Our Past For Our Future

From Pieces of Our Past - Dublin Courier Herald, September 2001.

The events of September 11, 2001  will shape our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren for centuries to come.  When we look forward to see how we can endure the tumult of that day and the turmoil to come, we should look back to see how we can overcome the brutal and vicious attack that shook, but did not topple, the foundation of our country. We all feel the need to something.  However small, however big, we ask ourselves,  what can we do?

In times of war, our citizens have done what it takes to survive.  During the American Revolution, our country’s first civil war, we fought and killed neighbors to preserve our freedom. While the men and boys of our country have always born the brunt to the fighting, there have always been women standing beside us.  They have provided comfort to the fallen.  They have provided food and clothing to the soldiers.  They have raised money for soldiers and relief efforts. In other words, they have done what needed to be done.

Carolyn Hall wanted to something to help her country win World War II.  She was unable to roll bandages or make clothing or do anything that the other women of Laurens County were doing to help the GIs.  When she was in school in Macon, Carolyn learned the art of knitting.   She became proficient at knitting, so much so that she was one of the most best knitters among the Laurens County’s women.  The chairman of the production committee considered her work to be nearly perfect.  Her speed was described as breathtaking.  Carolyn had a problem following a pattern.  You see, the school in which she learned to knit was the Georgia Academy for the Blind.  Carolyn, blind since birth, answered her country’s call with a heroic effort.

During World War II, young girls, hiding their tears and fears for their fathers, brothers, and boyfriends, put on their best dresses and went out and sold war bonds.  They did something.  Everybody did something.  It was the least they could do.  In some wars we didn’t do everything we could do, and it tore our country apart.

One critical need is to involve our children.   In all our country’s crises, our children have done their part.  Whether it was raising money for war effort by picking up tin cans or newspapers, working in the victory corps, or just being there to reassure us that our future is of utmost importance, our children have served. They will be looking to us for guidance in the days to come.

The questions we all are asking are what are we going to do?  What can we do?  The answers are actually simple.  We do what we have done before.  Here are ten things we can do:  HOPE for peace on Earth. PRAY for those who suffer. SERVE wherever you can. DONATE your time and money. COMFORT those who fear. SUPPORT your leaders. TRUST in God. WAVE our flag.  TELL your children that you love them. KEEP your faith.

If these are not enough, here are ten more:  Shake a law enforcement officer’s hand and tell him “thank you.”  Bake a cake or some cookies for the guys at the fire station.  Ask your councilman or commissioner to double the salaries of our public safety officers and emergency medical technicians. Fear not, live your life in freedom.   Think of others.  Show a lot of kindness.  Unite as one.  Remove hate from your mind. Pray some more.

And last, but not least, listen to the words of Sir Winston Churchill, who led the English people through more than two years of constant attacks on their country.  Churchill was invited to return to his boyhood school to speak to the students.  The day was hot.  The accolades heaped upon the British leader were many, long, and often redundant.  Churchill rose to speak.  He uttered one sentence before he returned to his seat.  His nine words were simple, but eloquent. As he wiped his brow he told the students, “Gentlemen, life is tough, but never, ever, give up!”

As you have probably surmised by now, I am a flag waver, pure and simple. When I see the American flag, I see our small children making American flags.  I see our senior citizens, many of them in the last years of their lives, standing outside lighting candles in hopes of peace and mourning the loss of so many.  I hear Vietnam War veterans, even World War II veterans, wanting to serve their country again if necessary.  I see thousands of our citizens at the Shamrock Bowl singing “God Bless America,” giving standing ovations to our public safety officers, and crying and cheering to the soul-stirring rendition of “God Bless The U.S.A.” by members of the Dudley Baptist Choir.  I see our local firemen, who would go into a burning building to save us if we were attacked.  I see our folks in the military around the world who stand guard while we work, play, and sleep.  This is America.

This is a time when there are no Republicans and Democrats, no blacks, whites, or Latins,  no regional factionalism.   It is a time to unite.   We need to look for all of the good that  will come out of this tragedy.  You’ve probably noticed a change around you already.   Look along the streets.  See all of the flags.  People are scrambling to find their old flags, flying them for the first time in months or years.

 For the first time in my life, there are no flags on the shelves or storerooms at Wal Mart and K-Mart.  People are wearing them on their clothes, tying them to their car antennas, and adorning their mailboxes with them.  Flashing signs, which once asked for your business, are now asking God to bless America.  Red, white, and blue ribbons are everywhere.  Now, maybe, we can realize that our true heroes are not wearing  brightly colored uniforms with numbers on their backs and fat wallets in their pockets.  Our real heroes are those men and women who are the public safety officers, the soldiers, the sailors, and the airmen, who serve their country and community not for the  money, but from a sense of duty and love.

September 11, 2001 was perhaps the darkest day in American history.  It was even more so than September 17, 1862 when twenty thousand Americans died on the rolling hills, creeks, and cornfields outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland during the Battle of Antietam.  We overcame that tragedy, and we will overcome this one.  It is important to realize that in the face of that horrific tragedy of September 11th, something great, something magnificent, something glorious is going on.   It makes me smile!  It makes me cry!  It makes me proud!    In the days, months, and years to come, it is up to us.  Our best days are yet to come. What can you do?  What can we do?    Love.  Hope.  Pray.  Serve.  Donate. Trust.  Support.  Comfort.  Do something, anything,  to help.  It’s just that simple.  As an American, it is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do.  It is the thing that we must do.