9/11 REMEMBRANCE: LONGING PRESIDENT REAGAN . . . BOOING SENATOR CLINTON
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I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline . . . When I see the city from my window – no, I don’t feel how small I am – but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.
The above is a quote from the Fountainhead, and I can’t think of a writer who has expressed a more descriptive admiration for the New York skyline and America than Ayn Rand. Perhaps the 9/11 terrorist understood something about the skyline of New York that most Americans didn’t: that the skyline represented the trophy of American freedom, of man’s individual creativity, and of man’s will to strive for excellence.
When 9/11 occurred, my immediate reaction was “Oh, no! Where is President Reagan?” When President Reagan was at the helm, I had always felt safe as an American because I knew that President Reagan would stand for the safety and the security of America and its citizens, first, second . . . and always.
I didn’t experience this sentiment with President George W Bush. President Bush didn’t appear to have the confidence that President Reagan had, and when he spoke there always seemed to be something missing –creating the awkward moment. President Reagan, on the other hand, always was able to hit the nail on the head in a triumphant manner.
What I furthermore liked about President Reagan was, he didn’t care what the international community thought — and they respected him all-the-more for it. I can’t imagine President Reagan holding hands with a Saudi Crown Prince, like President Bush at the White House in 2005.
President Reagan, at least in my mind, came from the America that had built the New York skyline, the bridges, and that had fought its wars. President Reagan was a proud American, and he made Americans feel proud. Furthermore, President Reagan viewed the United States as a morally superior country. And President Reagan was always able to articulate his beliefs.
For many days after 9/11, I remember feeling depressed. “Where were our leaders,” I remember thinking? The 9/11 attack didn’t only destroy the WTC skyscrapers; it in many ways destroyed the American pride and confidence as well. Most Americans supported President Bush for patriotic reasons, but many were doubtful, and not inspired like they once were under President Reagan.
And after many lonely days, feeling defeated and about to lose my pride as an American, it soon was restored by the pictures being shown at 9/11 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden of the fallen firemen.
These men, pictured in uniform, were some of the most distinguished looking men I had seen. Many of these men were 2nd or 3rdgeneration firefighters. And the surviving firemen and policemen, and their families, were all there to honor them.
These were the kinds of men, I remember thinking, who had built the skylines, the men who had built the bridges; these were the iron workers who walked over iron beams 50 stories high against cold, hitting wind. These were the men who, when injured on the job, would refuse medical treatment so they could return to the job. And these were the men who booed then Senator Hillary Clinton off the stage that night.
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This occurred at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 20, 2001. The event was a live broadcast, and as such, the political elite were unable to control the speech and the natural unfolding of events. It was reported that one political handler said: “How could we not know this was the wrong forum for Hillary? These are the cops and firemen who listen to right-wing radio . . .”
When watching this unfold, I remember thinking that Hilary Clinton was not from the America that had built and protected the country. She represented the new generation, the ones that spoke a lot about America’s racist and sexist past. Hilary Clinton represented the new America, the ones who believed that America was nothing to be proud of. And these were now the people holding the leadership positions in our government (and as First Lady) and high society culture.
I furthermore will never forget how the NY firemen and policemen upstaged all the celebrities by simply being themselves: they took to the stage, and spoke from the heart. That night, these men were America’s celebrities. And that night these men were America’s leaders.
And that night I went to bed feeling America was going to be alright.
Theo Willem is a free-lance writer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Note to Reader: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of TheDailyPamphlet.com