Almost everyone who was alive on September 11, 2001, remembers where they were the day the United States came under attack. Although the day was terrifying, we all came together. The unity and resilience of Americans in the weeks that followed drew international attention and was likely a disappointment to those who wished us harm. On October 12, 2001, Cornel Nistorescu, the managing editor of the Romanian newspaper Evenimentul Zilei,, published an editorial under the title “C'ntarea Americii” which translates into “Ode To America.” Below is a translation of the column. We pray that today, 20 years later, his observations remain true.
~An Ode to America ~
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.
On 9/ll, the American tragedy turned 300 million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the Army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about.
Instead, 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 in every car a government official or the president was passing. On every occasion, they started singing “God Bless America”!
I watched the live broadcasts and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down 100 floors with a woman in a 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 into collections aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.
What on earth unites the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their 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, I reached but only one conclusion… Only freedom can work such miracles.
— Bob Rayner and Robin Beres, editors