The attacks came on September 11, 2001, killing nearly three-thousand people in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, PA. The nation’s airports were closed while public officials tried to sort out what was going on.
A few days later flights resumed and I was sent to Los Angeles International Airport to cover it for KTLA. On a spot of grass, just beyond the fence around the airport’s perimeter, I spotted a lone man holding a flag. Thinking it might be a story, we drove over to his location. He told me he had been there for several hours, wanting to be there to welcome the first flights back into Los Angeles. He had been there all morning. He had rigged up the flag in short-order with a pole he had in his garage when it was announced that the FAA was reopening the nation’s airspace. As we drove away he was still there waving his flag as airliners continued coming in.
I’ll never forget that man with his flag, our flag, who did what he did for no reason other than patriotism. And now, with a show-trial in the Senate and a nation divided, it appears we may once again be in for the fight of our lives. It feels as though we are facing a very real threat to Democracy and that there just won’t be any easy way out.
Recently a friend posted a picture on Facebook, a painting of George Washington, showing humility, faith and courage as he kneeled in the snow to pray at Valley Forge. The odds he faced were insurmountable. However, to borrow from the late Eric Sevareid, “This country was not founded by wimps.”
Don’t give up on us just yet. Remember that man with the flag. He had no reason for doing what he did other than he thought it was the right thing to do. The American thing to do. So he did it.