TERRE HAUTE —
In America, our “we moments” are few.
Strange as it sounds, that’s a good thing. No other place on the planet is quite like the good, old US-of-A. We protest against each other, publicly question the intelligence of our elected officials, sue our neighbors and argue over unsolvable social problems, — and then wind up side by side in the bleachers at a high school basketball game. Such awkward situations could never happen in repressive nations. In the Land of the Free, dysfunction can happen, and does, daily.
The rest of the world, undoubtedly, looks on in confusion as we tolerate, for example, an inane, unending debate over the validity of our president’s birth certificate. They probably mutter, “Those wacky Americans.”
But that head-scratching turns to envy in one of those instances when America shows what it’s made of. The “we moments” make us unique. Two such moments are directly connected to the horrific terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 — that day etched into memories simply as “9/11.”
By midmorning on that sunny Tuesday, the obvious sank into our collective consciousness: “We’ve been attacked.”
The trauma struck hardest, of course, on the victims of the diabolical acts, and the victims’ families and friends.
Yet, even if we didn’t know any of the nearly 3,000 people killed, it still felt like the terrorists’ had assaulted “us.” Those who died when hijackers crashed airliners into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and a rural area of Pennsylvania represented the “melting pot” label this nation wears. They were brokers, restaurant workers, firefighters, police officers, moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, best buds and college roommates, delineated from virtually every race, ethnic and religious background.
The loss seemed horrendously real as the unimaginable images replayed on CNN.
On Sept. 12, 2001, America showed the power of we. Evidence could be seen right here in Terre Haute.
People here, and elsewhere, assembled to pray in churches and synagogues, as well as the Islamic Center of Terre Haute. Folks stood in somber candlelight vigils around town. American flags sold out. And there was a line of 252 people waiting outside the Terre Haute Community Blood Center for their chance to donate. Two-hundred and 52 people — they weren’t waiting in line to receive anything; they were there to give.
As young men and women joined the U.S. military response to the attacks, millions of other Americans back home started volunteering more, and the numbers hit a national peak from 2003 to 2005.
Late Sunday night, nearly a decade after 9/11, another “we moment” unfolded. In a televised address, President Obama told the nation that American special forces had killed the mastermind of those terrorist attacks — Osama bin Laden — during a raid of the fugitive’s heavily fortified compound in a Pakistan suburb. The news sparked chants of “USA, USA” at the Phillies-Mets game Sunday night in Philadelphia. Spontaneous crowds cheered the strike on bin Laden outside the White House gates in Washington and in Times Square in New York — the two cities targeted by bin Laden’s minions.
Both presidents involved in the post-9/11 hunt for bin Laden — Bush and Obama — emphasized that justice had been done. Justice took a long time, as it often does. One American senator, John Kerry of Massachusetts, made an important distinction in explaining the lengthy, determined quest to stop the Al-Qaida leader. “We are a nation of peace and laws,” Kerry said Monday, “and people everywhere should understand that our 10-year manhunt [for bin Laden] was in search of justice not revenge.”
Yes, the battle against terrorism won’t quit, because Al-Qaida and others like it won’t quit. Setbacks and disagreements inside our country about how to handle those challenges are inevitable, here.
That said, the headline in the New York Post on Monday seemed appropriate, at the moment: “We got him.”
Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
In America, our “we moments” are few.
- Mark Bennett B-Sides
MARK BENNETT: After running for 28 hours straight, what’s another 5 miles?
Some phrases can only be uttered by a few people, or none at all.
MARK BENNETT: Glitches show limitations of high-stakes testing concept
The dog ate my homework. That age-old excuse — based on a shockingly unforeseen complication — rarely works for a kid who didn’t finish yesterday’s math assignment. Yet, in a role reversal, Indiana school children, along with their teachers and administrators, are left to accept an explanation for a disruption best described as the mother of all ironies.
MARK BENNETT: One step at a time to save lives
Remember that name.
MARK BENNETT: Sometimes, the mere posing of questions is significant
The era seems quaint now, almost like a fable. When people left their house doors unlocked. When the sight of a police officer in a school meant it was Career Day.
MARK BENNETT: New reality steers Nashville singer to Crossroads for Historical Society concert
People pass through the Crossroads of America for lots of reasons.
Business trips. College campus events. Federal prison sentences. Visits with relatives. Gas pitstops.
Or maybe a career change and a twist of fate.
Ty Brown makes his first stop in downtown Terre Haute as the headliner of a multi-band Sweet Sensations Country Jam concert May 4 in the Ohio Building — a fundraiser for the Vigo County Historical Society.
MARK BENNETT: Terre Haute barber ‘sharpens up’ customers for 50 years
People streamed through this section of downtown Terre Haute in those days.
“You could hardly walk by here,” John Hochhalter said, pointing toward the sidewalk outside the window.
The bustle has faded since the early 1960s. Hochhalter remains. He’s still barbering in the same shop he and late business partner Kenny Thomas opened a half-century ago this week.
MARK BENNETT: Memories, emotions rush back with announcement of new pope
I saw a pope once.Read quickly, that sentence sounds too casual, almost as if we’d crossed paths at Home Depot. Say it slowly, though, and the significance comes through.
MARK BENNETT: Reflections of grid success stir with Brent Anderson’s passing
A few hundred miles away, and nearly 40 years gone by, a special game ball still occupies a fond place in Rudy Bohinc’s memories.
Lent meets ‘The Bucket List’ in Terre Haute
Initially, the concept might conjure images of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman jumping out of an airplane or sitting atop the Pyramids. Instead, think “Lent Meets ‘The Bucket List’ in Terre Haute.”
MARK BENNETT: Never truer: Knowledge vital to narrowing ‘skills gap’
The pillar at the gates of Faber College in the movie “Animal House” bore a wise motto, despite its tongue-in-cheek intent …
MARK BENNETT: Great-niece to re-enact Paul Dresser’s musical legacy in Terre Haute show
People can be forgotten. Their lives end, time passes and memories fade.
Often, the only keepers of their legacies are family and friends, who tell and retell their stories, generation to generation.
For Paul Dresser, his fame burned strong enough as a turn-of-the-century, million-seller songwriter to preserve bits of his public notoriety.
MARK BENNETT: An Olympic takedown
Imagine an iconic image of American sports history erased.
MARK BENNETT: Indiana’s ‘skills gap’
A problem lasting decades ceases to be a “problem.” By then, the situation becomes “part of the culture.”
MARK BENNETT: America’s best quality of life? Indiana must address flaws, set priorities
Just as the job interview seems smooth, the interviewer drops the question.
“So, where do you see yourself in five years?”
MARK BENNETT: Pondering what is meant by ‘quality of life’ to Hoosiers
Sometimes it’s sincere. Other times, it’s sarcasm.
You cross paths with a friend, ask how they’re doing, and they say, “Ah, just livin’ the dream.”
Livin’ the dream. What exactly does that involve? Can it be defined?
MARK BENNETT: By whatever name, stomach virus still a sick story
It’s the ugly side of the cold-and-flu season.
MARK BENNETT: Living on the banks
We are the Wabash.
MARK BENNETT: Rising young producer lands spot in Sundance Film Festival
When a project clicks, the moment is clear.
MARK BENNETT: Remember the 20 children lost
Their names were listed on the screen at the front of the church on Sunday.
Our pastor asked us to choose one and pray for their family. I selected Noah Pozner, just by chance.
MARK BENNETT: Tasting panel to help find Champagne Velvet’s ‘million-dollar flavor’
Rounding up enough volunteers to serve on a committee can be a struggle.
MARK BENNETT: Thanksgiving’s feast can be defined by either the presence of family or the family’s quest for presents
The best gift deals will be gone by 12:01 a.m. Nov. 23.
MARK BENNETT: Salvation Army touches many lives
Sometimes, the unexpected happens.
MARK BENNETT: Election excellence: 30 out of 32 is pretty darn good
Detroit car makers unveil the latest Mustangs and Corvettes on Wabash Avenue.
MARK BENNETT: Climbing the rungs of Lincoln’s Ladder
One crucial quality helped Abraham Lincoln become America’s greatest president.
Courage? Political savvy? Wisdom? Moral character?
MARK BENNETT: Drop the needle
Over time, excellence and nostalgia inappropriately merge in our minds.
No matter the age, voting’s a part of American fabric
The electoral karma seemed, well, unfair.
MARK BENNETT: A moment on the brink
Ominous, but distant.
MARK BENNETT: Valley-born filmmaker influenced by roots
Real-life stories inspire Laura Brownson.
Even those vastly unlike her own.
MARK BENNETT: No debating it: Candidates have it easier than ‘forensics’ specialists
Nightmares can jolt us awake, just before we fall off a cliff or show up for work or school unprepared.
MARK BENNETT: Landmark win propels Sycamores to Hall
There’s a thin line between the possible and the impossible.
- More Mark Bennett B-Sides Headlines
- MARK BENNETT: After running for 28 hours straight, what’s another 5 miles?