The Most American of Things…
On Friday of last week we paused to have the somber reminder that 19 years had passed since the horrific events of September 11th. There were, of course, the usual memes on social media, the speeches, and the quiet moments of reflection. As was the case with all emotional tragedies, most of us remember exactly where we were when the news first came across that the United States was under attack.
President Trump also made a speech. In it he resolved that the fallen shall forever be remembered and that our resolve shall never waiver. Then he referenced the demigods who would be fated to be on United Flight 93. He said their actions of spectacular heroism were “the most American of things…”
I told you in last week’s blog that Sandy is typically my muse when it comes to blog content… this week I can give credit directly to President Trump.
When I was a young teenager in the 1980s a film called Local Hero was released by a Scottish director; it starred Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster. It was the story about a hotshot young oil executive (Riegert) being sent to the fictional Scottish town of Ferness by his oil company (owned by Lancaster) to buy the place. (The oil company had identified the small hamlet as a strategic acquisition for their production. Its purchase would make the town folk rich, but it would also necessitate the destruction of the town.) Riegert is not keen on making the journey. He loves the big city of Houston and the fast-paced life he has created. Spending a significant amount of time in a Scottish coastal village is not exactly compatible with his lifestyle. As he does end up spending more and more time with the townspeople, he becomes an unofficial member of the community. You can see his life slowing down, his love for the people and the country growing and, ultimately, his disenchantment with city life at the end of the film.
People have asked me what my favorite movie of all time is.
This is it.
It is not my favorite because of the complexity of the narrative or the dynamic witty dialogue. The story is pretty straightforward, and the dialogue is well… normal, I guess.
I love it for the sheer simplicity of the movie. It is utterly perfect in its message and its methodology. It is, to put it simply, a beautiful, simple, little film.
That singular statement by President Trump…”The most American of things” evoked in me the same feelings I had when I first finished Local Hero. His turn of phrase was simple, elegant, and utterly perfect.
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Many of you already know my critique of what ultimately defines American Character. We are brash, honorable, self-interested, loud, dismissive of authority, skeptical, jaded, uniquely optimistic and, when called upon, capable of acts of unbelievable heroism.
(As an aside… one of the major reasons collectivists have had such a struggle establishing quick and decisive control of the American system is that our character underpinnings are so deeply distrustful of collectivism… but that is a subject for another blog.)
The first soldiers of our War on Terror never went through a formal induction into our nation’s armed forces. There simply was not time. Citizen soldiers aboard Flight 93 were given intel from their loved ones on the ground that the enemy had converted aircraft into weapons and were attacking counter-value targets. There was a reasonable belief that other large-scale attacks were about to take place, and they were now passengers on a missile that was being hurdled towards other Americans.
With a resolve that binds soldiers inexorably to the battlefield, the passengers on Flight 93 did something completely contrary to the instincts the enemy was expecting… they fought back with the knowledge that their victory would inevitably lead to their own demise.
“Let’s Roll” was the battlecry heard from Todd Beamer as he hung up the phone after learning from his wife that fellow airline passengers that day had perished in the World Trade Center.
Their sacrifice spared thousands of lives… their actions exemplified “the most American of things…”
As our nation heaves during this time of self-reflection, as we attack monuments and reevaluate our relations with each other… let us not forget the core principles that underly our unique American Character.
We are who we are, a nation founded through Divine Providence and based on the principle that all people are created equal. We are individuals, empowered with inalienable rights imbued by our Creator. Our government is established to preserve those rights… that is the singular purpose of its existence.
A nation of Americans will not… and to be honest cannot… submit to the the forceful insistence of tyrants.
We will never be cowed, owned, or controlled. We are Americans, and our simple unapologetic values give us a self-confidence, or perhaps even an arrogance, that the rest of the world simply cannot contemplate.
We will always persevere. Americans would never tolerate anything else.