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Those outside the US might be interested in hearing about the impact of the Sept. 11 events on popular culture, especially how its expressed over the Internet. I haven't seen anything similar except when I was in Egypt and the Al Aqsa intifada broke out. From a people that had been fairly quiet (at least publicly) about Palestine, there was a virtual explosion of Internet messages passing on gruesome pictures of people killed or injured, boycott suggestions, first person accounts, etc.
Similarly, in the US this past week, the Internet has witnessed an explosion of expressions of solidarity, support, and sympathy among Americans. I've been getting emails from relatives and colleagues who I had never heard from before. There are several genres, much of which is celabratory about how heroic and resolute the US is. Common examples of this are widely circulated letters from Canadians or Europeans thanking the US for things its done over the last few decades and pledging to stand shoulder to shoulder with the US.
(Note to possible flamers: I am not in this message suggesting any similarity or connection between the Al Aqsa intifada and the 9-11 attack--just mentioning that these were two examples of when I witnessed an explosion of Internet response.)
Now a new post 9-11 genre is emerging--the patriotic poem. Two of them found their way into my inbox today. The first is actually a rather clever take-off on an old Dr. Seuss poem (for those of you not from the US, Dr. Seuss was one of the most famous American authors of children's books and he wrote the poem and story, the Grinch Stole Christmas).
Date: September 13, 2001
Every U down in Uville liked U.S. a lot,
But the Binch, who lived Far East of Uville, did not.
The Binch hated U.S! the whole U.S. way!
Now don't ask me why, for nobody can say,
It could be his turban was screwed on too tight.
Or the sun from the desert had beaten too bright
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
But, Whatever the reason, his heart or his turban,
He stood facing Uville, the part that was urban.
"They're doing their business," he snarled from his perch.
"They're raising their families! They're going to church!
They're leading the world, and their empire is thriving,
I MUST keep the U's and S's from surviving!"
Tomorrow, he knew, all the U's and the S's,
Would put on their pants and their shirts and their dresses.
They'd go to their offices, playgrounds and schools,
And abide by their U and S values and rules,
And then they'd do something he liked least of all,
Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand all united, each U and each S,
And they'd sing Uville's anthem, "God bless us! God bless!"
All around their Twin Towers of Uville, they'd stand,
and their voices would drown every sound in the land.
"I must stop that singing," Binch said with a smirk,
And he had an idea-an idea that might work!
The Binch stole some U airplanes in U morning hours,
And crashed them right into the Uville Twin Towers.
"They'll wake to disaster!" he snickered, so sour,
"And how can they sing when they can't find a tower?"
The Binch cocked his ear as they woke from their sleeping,
All set to enjoy their U-wailing and weeping,
Instead he heard something that started quite low,
And it built up quite slow, but it started to grow-
And the Binch heard the most unpredictable thing...
And he couldn't believe it-they started to sing!
He stared down at U-ville, not trusting his eyes,
What he saw was a shocking, disgusting surprise!
Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any towers at all!
He HADN'T stopped U-Ville from singing! It sung!
For down deep in the hearts of the old and the young,
Those Twin Towers were standing, called Hope and called Pride,
And you can't smash the towers we hold deep inside.
So we circle the sites where our heroes did fall,
With a hand in each hand of the tall and the small,
And we mourn for our losses while knowing we'll cope,
For we still have inside that U-Pride and U-Hope.
For America means a bit more than tall towers,
It means more than wealth or political powers,
It's more than our enemies ever could guess,
So may God bless America! Bless us! God bless!
This was written by Cheryl Sawyer, a professor at UH Clear Lake in the counseling department.
As the soot and dirt and ash rained down,
We became one color.
As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning building
We became one class.
As we lit candles of waiting and hope
We became one generation.
As the firefighters and police officers fought their way into the inferno
We became one gender.
As we fell to our knees in prayer for strength,
We became one faith.
As we whispered or shouted words of encouragement,
We spoke one language.
As we gave our blood in lines a mile long,
We became one body.
As we mourned together the great loss
We became one family.
As we cried tears of grief and loss
We became one soul.
As we retell with pride of the sacrifice of heroes
We become one people.
We are The Power of One.
We are United.
We are America.
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