Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
Yes, I love America! I love it when a celebrity sings the Star Spangled Banner, or soldiers carrying the American flag during sporting events. I am also proud of the rights we enjoy in this nation.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]
However, does loving American means shunning your fellow citizens, criticizing ideas that could unite and help people in the U.S. (especially in the era of terrorism and bad economies), wishing to kick people out who are "un-American" or act like America is the best thing since sliced bread? I do not think so. That is not a patriot. I call it ignorance and bigotry.
I was in seventh grade when the attacks happened. During the first year after 9/11, I participated in the blind patriotism. I proudly proclaim my American-ness by singing the anthem and hoping that the troops will get the 'bad guys'. But I realize that after Congress passed the Patriot Act and noticing the behavior of some of the "patriots," I had to redefine what it means to love and go to war for your country.
Since the terrorist attacks, some Americans seem to love their country so much that they are willing to kick out their own citizens who have a different vision of America from the mainstream perception. Media tends to portray Americans as people willing to use military might to take over countries that are not 'democratic' and are 'harbors for terrorists'.
Some of them may treat American Muslims like terrorists, even though not every one of Arab descent or Muslim is a terrorist. It is like assuming that all blacks like rims. To make matters worse, the government (via the Patriot Act) is preventing people from standing up to such ignorance and speaking out against the wars in the Middle East. Even your neighbor could become a terrorist if they find out he or she has been organizing protests against the war.
On the 10-year anniversary, we ought to refrain from discriminating others, glorifying war, and over-proclaiming our love for the United States of America. We should still remember the people who lost their lives and sacrificed their lives to save others in New York City, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Yet we also must use this day to show some real American patriotism, consisting of:
* Loving all of our neighbors.
* Exercising our rights without driving people way.
* Uniting one another and working together in rebuilding America, making it a better place for all in every aspect (social, moral, financial, infrastructural, etc.)