Survival After 9/11

In spite of 9/11 and the terrorist activity since then, I know we shall prevail. The American trait I admire the most is our resilience in the face of the most severe adversity. Somehow we always manage to pick ourselves up, reassess, adjust, and do whatever it takes to bounce back even if it means reinventing ourselves. The best examples I can think of are the ways in which the country reacted in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and 9/11. This is a quality not common to all countries.

Another admirable trait that will help us survive is that we firmly believe anything is possible. I believe the "Anything is possible" attitude is one of the main reasons my grandparents, as well as millions of others, immigrated to this country. In a social and political sense there is nothing we cannot change or achieve. Consider Barack Obama's election to the presidency. No matter what one's politics are, his is a vision for change that has not only captured the American imagination, but the world's. There is no denying that black-white race relations have improved dramatically in the past two centuries. In addition, I think his being elected has done more to improve those relations than any other single event in American history. Now, let's hope and pray he succeeds in fulfilling the promise of real change, while shouldering the enormous burden the world has placed on his shoulders. Wouldn't it be a marvelous twist of fate if President Barack Obama stepped out from the shadow of Abraham Lincoln, to help do for the oppressed of the world what Lincoln did for African Americans?

Lastly, we have an enormous drive to succeed—to be the best, to win, to lead, to invent, and in the process, be respected. Our history proves that. Sometimes, however, we need to temper that drive or it can turn into counterproductive greed. I’m afraid our history proves that too. Who can forget the corporate fraud and moral corruption associated with Enron, Arthur Anderson, and AIG? Consider Imclone's stock trading improprieties, too. Let's face it—there's no easier way to make or lose money than in the stock market. We do not need corporate improprieties adding further risk and volatility.

The 9/11 attack was to become a symbol of the new millennium. And even though there were terrorist acts in the United States and elsewhere before 9/11, I think for most of us, 9/11 represents the real beginning of the war on terrorism. Down the road it will serve as a test of our great national strength, and hopefully bring us closer together.

I saw evidence of that closeness immediately following the tragedy. It was a delight to see people come together as never before to help one another and to offer that extra measure of kindness. You saw it at the supermarket, on the roads, in the parks … Virtually everywhere. I marveled at it during trips into New York City. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could always maintain that kind of spirit?