A local resident lights candles on the Williamsburg waterfront, September 11, 2001
As always, Frank Rich sums up our opinions nicely. From the NY Times:
In the five years since the attacks, the ability of Americans to dust themselves off and keep going explains both what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong on our path to the divided and dispirited state the nation finds itself in today.
At the National Cathedral prayer service on Sept. 14, 2001, President Bush found just the apt phrase to describe this phenomenon: ‚”Today we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called ‘the warm courage of national unity.’ This is the unity of every faith and every background. It has joined together political parties in both houses of Congress.” What’s more, he added, ‚”this unity against terror is now extending across the world.” The destruction of that unity, both in this nation and in the world, is as much a cause for mourning on the fifth anniversary as the attack itself. As we can’t forget the dead of 9/11, we can’t forget how the only good thing that came out of that horror, that unity, was smothered in its cradle.
When F.D.R. used the phrase ‚”the warm courage of national unity,” it was at his first inaugural, in 1933, as the country reeled from the Great Depression. It is deeply moving to read that speech today. In its most famous line, Roosevelt asserted his ‚”firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itselfnameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Another passage is worth recalling, too: ‚”We now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we cannot merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective.
“What followed under Roosevelt’s leadership is one of history’s most salutary stories. Americans responded to his twin entreatiesto renounce fear and to sacrifice for the common goodwith a force that turned back economic calamity and ultimately an axis of brutal enemies abroad. What followed Mr. Bush’s speech at the National Cathedral, we know all too well, is another story.
On the very next day after that convocation, Mr. Bush was asked at a press conference ‚”how much of a sacrifice” ordinary Americans would ‚”be expected to make in their daily lives, in their daily routines.” His answer: ‚”Our hope, of course, is that they make no sacrifice whatsoever.” He, too, wanted to move onto ‚”see life return to normal in America,” as he put itbut toward partisan goals stealthily tailored to his political allies rather than the nearly 90 percent of the country that, according to polls, was rallying around him.