This week marks the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.
Though the passage of time has begun to cloud the collective consciousness of our nation, it is important that we not forget that we are still engaged in a war to protect our homeland against terrorism.
Four days after the attack in 2001, I first published the following article. I am reprinting this column this week in hopes it helps remind us of the challenges which are still faced by our nation and all Americans, and the efforts we must ALL put forth to win this war.
Eleven Ways Every American Can Help Win This War
In addition to my role as a newspaper publisher (and occasional writer), I have also spent much of my adult life as a political campaign manager and consultant. In virtually every political campaign, there are supporters who ask, “What can I do to help?” Over the years, I have learned to reduce campaign strategies to a list of simple tasks which any individual can do to help.
Since September 11th, I have heard that same question being asked over and over: “What can I do to help?” This time, however, it is not a political campaign, but a far more serious matter. All Americans seem united in their desire to help. We ALL want to do something to help with the relief efforts and to avenge this cowardly attack on our nation. But we are frustrated because there seems to be little we can do.
Indeed, our President and military leaders have a difficult job ahead as they choose the correct path to fight our hidden foes, some of whom may well be living among us. The war ahead is unlike any war history has ever recorded, and the objectives are still unclear. But, even as our nation’s military strategies are still unfolding, there are ways every individual American can and should help to win the war ahead of us. Here are my suggestions:
1. Give. Give money, give blood, and give food to the relief efforts for the victims of the first attack of this war. Donate to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or any of the hundreds of other relief efforts which are collecting needed money or supplies. And keep giving when future needs arise, as they most surely will. This war we must fight to prevent future attacks on America will be long and costly. Every American must be prepared to give.
2. Help keep our nation’s economy strong. Continue to make purchases as you normally would. Continue to invest in the businesses which are the economic backbone of the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Hold the investments you already own, and wisely invest in those industries which have suffered temporary setbacks due to the September 11th attack. America’s air transportation, travel, financial and insurance industries will bounce back strong… and our confidence in them will help them regain their strength even faster.
3. Conserve fuel to weaken our enemies’ economy. If we conserve fuel, their oil industry will suffer. We in America have the inventiveness to develop power sources which can eventually make their oil unneeded. We already have the technology for alternative power sources, and now we will certainly develop them. In the meantime, we should cut off our enemies’ money supply by no longer using their oil.
4. Fly the flag. Flying the Red, White and Blue is more than symbolic support. It helps boost the morale of our entire nation. More importantly, displaying our unbridled patriotism and determination sends a strong message to the world that could help sway “neutral” countries to support our cause. The world must understand that all America is united, and the sleeping giant has been awakened. Every American can help by proudly showing our colors.
5. Wear a confident smile… and offer an encouraging word to everyone you meet. Attitude is infectious, and it is important that our national attitude remain positive, even in the face of depressing news. During World War II, Churchill’s “V for Victory” and Roosevelt’s pre-war words, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, boosted our attitudes and made a difference in the war effort. In the days following the September 11th attack, a counselor friend of mine described incidents of “misplaced anger” between acquaintances. A cheerful comment to a friend or a total stranger will help alleviate the tension, frustration and anger that all Americans feel inside.
6. Help make America more productive. Work a little harder or a little longer at your job, or find ways to be more efficient. Every little bit of extra effort makes your company more productive, which increases our national output. When our national output, productivity and profitability are increased, there are more tax dollars available to support the war effort. If every American increased his or her daily productivity by just15 minutes, our government would have many billions of extra tax dollars to help win the war.
7. Volunteer in your community. Even if your volunteer activities don’t seem related to the war effort, they probably are. Most volunteer activities help solve local or national problems. When these problems are handled by volunteer efforts instead of by government, tax dollars are saved. So when you volunteer to pick up litter, help in the schools, raise money for cancer research, feed the homeless, shelter stray animals, or help with any other volunteer activity, you are making it easier for the government to devote tax dollars to the war and relief efforts. As our nation prepares for war, it is more important than ever that we give our volunteer efforts to strengthen our communities and our nation.
8. Pass along your patriotism. There are many, many young people who do not understand patriotism the way we do, because they were not taught the way we were. The abundances of our great nation have distracted us from teaching our children how that abundance is possible. Our younger generation needs to understand the greatness of America to fully appreciate the blessings of liberty. Let us teach our children patriotism, and instill in them the values which will give them strength to endure a war which they may someday be forced to help fight.
9. Prepare yourself. Make yourself a better, stronger person. Prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for a war we cannot predict. This is a different kind of war -- unlike any war we have fought before – and we cannot rely on the military alone. We have already seen that the enemy may be among us. EVERY true American must be prepared for the unexpected with stronger, healthier minds and bodies. The battles in this war could be fought with computers, or with hand-to-hand combat, or with biological warfare, or tactics not yet conceived. Every battle is won before it is fought. When we prepare ourselves, we help win the war.
10. Meet your neighbors. And get to know them well. One of America’s greatest strengths is our cultural diversity. It is critical that we not let that diversity divide us in this time of crisis. We can best protect ourselves from divisiveness by becoming closer: Meet your neighbors, especially those who may seem “different” than yourself; communicate with them and get to know them; and understand that their love of America is the same as yours. And, by communicating with our fellow Americans who share our patriotism, we will help officials isolate those few who do not.
11. Reaffirm your faith. Pray. Pray for our President, our nation and our world. The September 11th attack was aimed not only at our nation, but also at our faith. The war we must now wage is more than a battle of nations: It is a battle of good versus evil, a battle to stand up for the Judeo-Christian beliefs which formed the basis of our nation. We must reaffirm that faith as individuals and as a nation. With God, we cannot fail; without God, we cannot succeed. The power of prayer can defeat any foe.
And one more special thing you can do to help win the war….
Be a leader. In every war, leadership makes the difference. In this new kind of war, we cannot rely totally on military leaders or government leaders. We must have leaders throughout our land to inspire our nation. You can be a leader in your community, your church, your workplace, or your classroom. You can be a leader on your block or in your home. When you inspire others to do the 11 things listed here, you are a leader, and your leadership will help us win this war.
By Rod Shealy, Sr.
first published September 15, 2001