05/04/05 — We are as one: Admirer from abroad sees what keeps Americans united

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We are as one: Admirer from abroad sees what keeps Americans united

When the country is yours, you are much quicker to point out its flaws and to minimize its attributes. You understand how lucky you are to live there, but sometimes you can’t express the reasons why. You are quick to complain and to internalize the criticisms of others, believing sometimes that they are right to point fingers or to call foul.

Then, one day, you read an article from someone from the outside; someone whose perspective is not tainted by closeness; and someone who understands better than you why this country is special.

Today is one of those days, and this is one of those commentaries.

The following article was taken from the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei and was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu. His title, translated, is “Ode to America.”

Here is his commentary: (credit Goldsboro resident Troy Pate who sent it to us):


Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color. They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs. Still, the American tragedy turned 300 million people into a hand put on the heart.

Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army and the secret services that they are a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.

After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car, a government official or the president was passing.

On every occasion, they started singing their traditional song, “God Bless America.” I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down 100 floors with a woman in wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace.

I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion. Only freedom can work such miracles.


Perhaps a few more of us should remember just how we felt after the towers fell. Maybe we should remember the united feeling of knowing we were all in this together and that we might have been wounded, but we would not be defeated.

Perhaps a few more of us should remember 9/11 and what it really showed us about being Americans.

It’s just a thought.

Published in Editorials on May 4, 2005 10:05 AM