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I've been critical of Americans in the past - I have a whole host of columns to prove it. The absurdity of people's day-to-day beefs and complaints causes my stomach to rumble and my eyes to cross. The pettiness of Congress, bickering like little children, makes me doubt the future of America and our ability to retain our status as a super-power.
Then, one day, we turn on the TV to see that terrorists are destroying our landmark buildings. We watch in astonishment as we see a burning hole in our Pentagon. Our mouths hang open in shock as the World Trade Center, the famous "twin towers", crumbles before our very eyes and is distributed over lower Manhattan. It was like watching a disaster movie and I'm sure most of us initially responded with disbelief, "This can't be happening to us."
"Us" - what a powerful word. One that we forget about during the ordinary course of our lives and, coincidentally, also the initials of our country. A word that evokes unity and solidarity; that encompasses all religions, ethnicities, genders and personal preferences.
Suddenly Democrats in Congress are solidly behind President Bush. Sure, there are a few scattered individuals who are skeptical of W's ability to lead us and are critical of his actions on the day of the attack. But I consider them leftovers - they are so ingrained to hate everything associated with the "fake" President and Republicans in general that they're having a hard time adjusting to "Us".
Even Bill and Hillary Clinton have shown admirable dignity and grace. It would have been easy for the Clinton's to criticize the Republican leadership's actions to cast doubt and strengthen the Democrats come election time. But they didn't. Instead, they praised President Bush's actions and have shown a maturity that they never managed in the White House. Because now there are no Democrats and Republicans - there's just Us.
Not that there aren't still plenty of nuts in America - I'm watching one on CNN right now predicting the end of the world. Then there's Jerry Fallwell saying it's God's revenge against gays and feminists. But, let's face it, there are very few people immigrating to Ethiopia to look for a better life.
So there is a silver lining in this dark cloud that has enveloped our nation. It's just a shame that it takes something like this to remind us that we are still "Us".
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