Since Sept. 11, there has been much discussion of symbols in America. It will become a day no one will forget. We will tell our children about where we were when we heard of the unthinkable attack on America. It will be the defining moment of our generation.
I will always remember gathering with my friends, hugging, crying, and watching the news on TV as a drama unfolded before our eyes that seemed far too unbelievable for any movie. Questions, disbelief, theories, tears and endless phone calls – the horror mounted as the day wore on. And the unanswerable questions: Who? How? But mostly, why? Why would any human being senselessly waste so many thousands of lives, no matter how noble they considered their purpose?
It may seem strange, but what struck me Sept. 12 as I gazed across the reflecting pool at the Washington Monument, is not the mass destruction or the grief. What amazes me is our nation’s incredible resilience. The message that resounds with me is that “life goes on.” Even in the wake of madness and death, intended perhaps to so wound the American spirit that we would lose our will to go on, we continue.
The symbols I see are not made of brick or marble. They are much less powerful, yet infinitely more unshakable. I see a young girl donning a baseball cap bearing the starts and stripes, running to catch up with her father. I see a runner circling the reflecting pool going on with her daily routine. I see a community organizing a vigil in memory of those who perished. I see students coordinating a blood drive rather than sitting around feeling helpless. I see businesses and classes and life resume as usual. All these show me that America triumphed over terrorism.
Certainly, we were all shaken and shocked. In the coming weeks, as rescue workers search through the remains of American “symbols” destroyed by this incomprehensible act, we too will sift through our understanding to find sense where none exists. However, the strong resolve demonstrated in response to the tragedy, and in defiance of it, will remain the greatest symbol of America, one impenetrable by planes or terrorists or hatred. In the face of adversity, the spirit of America has shone through and will not be shaken.
-The writer is a junior majoring in political communication.