What lessons did we learn from Sept.11, 2001? I guess if you ask multiple people to answer this question, you will get multiple answers.

If you were to ask me, as I sit here and write this on Sept. 10, 2020, I would say we didn’t learn much. If we did, we sure don’t act like it. We are a nation run amok. The humble unity most of us felt on that dreadful day has long dissipated. It’s as if those police officers and firefighters who lived and died, the heroes who took the plane down in the Pennsylvania countryside, and every victim who lost their lives that day, did so in vain. I know this can’t be true. It’s just how this country for the most part is acting right now.

Every time I see a picture of the twin towers, or read anything associated with that day, my blood pressure rises to unhealthy numbers. Maybe it isn’t very Christian of me. I don’t know. Nevertheless, it is the truth. For the life of me, I don’t understand how anyone can not feel the same. But I’m pretty sure not everyone does. Many have seemingly moved on from this tragic event as if it never happened. Unfortunately, several thousand families lost a loved one on that day. I feel sure somehow, they haven’t forgotten. And they never will. Maybe you think I should let it go. Nah. I think I will continue to love my country and be angry it was attacked.

Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” was re-energized after the events of Sept. 11. It’s a beautiful tune about being proud to be an American. Every time I hear this song, I still get chills. As many problems and differences we might have, at least we are free. We have the right to believe and say pretty much anything we wish. Yet, anyone with a moral compass should know, just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right. Words hurt. Turn on social media to see some of these verbal attacks. People, many I have looked up to in the past, spitting venom like a Cobra at other people that I have looked up to in the past. All because of a difference of opinion. Most of these type conversations would never be had in person. The internet has made many lions out of cowards. But they are only lions while they are locked in their homes wrapped in the protection of the very Constitution they spit on.

One would think racism would have improved since 1991 when Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV in Tampa. Guess what? It hasn’t. Her rendition of this patriotic song will most likely go down in history as the greatest performance ever of this classic. If it doesn’t, we’ve made a mistake. Because it is without doubt a performance of historic proportions. At the time, American troops were fighting the Gulf War. My brother was there when the fighting started along with many of your loved ones. It had to be hard on Mama, Daddy, and his wife, Sam. I’m sure it was hard on your families. As scary as this time in history was, I will never forget the feeling I got listening to Whitney sing the National Anthem. Not only was my body covered with chill bumps, a tear rolled down my cheek. Okay. Maybe more than one tear.

This was a beautiful and patriotic moment in American history. It was led by a black woman with a phenomenal voice. She didn’t make it about race. She didn’t make it about gender. She didn’t sing the song as a black woman. Whitney Houston, in her poise and grace, sang the National Anthem as an American. The heart and soul in her voice left no doubt she was a proud American. When she finished the song, she wasn’t cheered by white, blacks, and other people of color. She was applauded by other proud Americans who loved her for her gift of song the country needed so badly at the time. Though she died much too soon, Whitney Houston will never be forgotten for her willingness to share her patriotism through song.

Two of the greatest patriotic songs in history were sung by a white man and a black woman. Ain’t that something? I’m sure both songs sung by these two legends somehow offend some people today. That my friends, is a sad state of affairs. If I am right and there are some offended by these two songs and these two artists, please know this. There are many like me who respectfully don’t care if you are offended by patriotism. We are proud to be Americans. A great country singer, Alan Jackson, sings another patriotic song about Sept. 11 titled, “Have You Forgotten?” I’m afraid some have.

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Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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