Pop Culture Response to 9-11

On Sept. 11, 2001, shortly after the unthinkable happened, something low key remarkable also occurred.

Americans put aside our political differences to mourn for lives lost and celebrate and respect our country. This included responses from visual artists, writers and even performing artists, all sharing their patriotism. Of course, there were a few who said some pretty unintelligent things, but I won’t get into those.

Just briefly, I want to share some of the best of people that came out of the worst of mankind.

Comic Book Patriotism

The comic book industry has become an “identity politics” having putting their politics over the need for escapism and storytelling, but after 9-11, both mainstream and independent comics artists created compilations raising money for Twin Towers Fund, survivors’ funds and more. I have three volumes of these works filled with stories sharing everything from the loss felt by families of the victims, to the bravery of first responders. This image from the book by DC Comics pay homage to law enforcement. Good luck finding that today.

SNL Wanted to Make ALL Americans Laugh

Being a New York-based show, the writers of Saturday Night Live talked about the weirdness of doing a show after the attacks. They wanted to put out goofy content that gave all Americans a reason to laugh in a time of tragedy. Funny how the unfunny cast today hardly remembers that time.

Talk Show Hosts…Bringing People Together?

Wow! Whether they leaned left or right, it was put aside to share a love for the nation. What a novel concept. Jay Leno’s monologue and bandleader Kevin Eubanks’ response was a good example:

Music Celebrating American Bravery

From Alan Jackson’s “Where Where You When the World Stopped Turning” to Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll,” the outpouring of music written in celebration of American bravery, and lament of the needless loss of life was being created. There were even calls for peace like The “Hole in the World Tonight” by The Eagles. No one was crying about “me, me, me”, they were addressing us. And Toby Keith told us it was alright to be a little angry.

..and Budweiser Being Classy?

Budweiser is learning a hard lesson on the why you don’t hate on your core customer base, but back in 2001 they aired a commercial one time, not for any profit, but to share their respect for the victims of 9-11. What happened, guys?

My husband and I never turned the television on during the day, but on Sept. 11, 2001 we heard on the radio a plane crashed into one of the Trade Center towers. We switched on the television to see what we thought was a horrible accident, and saw, in real time, the second plane hit. It was a feeling I can’t replicate. My knees buckled and I felt sheer hopelessness. The next day, I felt a different kind of queasy and discovered I was pregnant with my first born.

My daughter, now 21, will never know how much hope she brought me that day. She was born in a year when we were still a patriotic nation, and graduated when we had long forgotten we are all a Americans first. Whatever ethnic, idealogical, political or self-identity tribe we belong to should come far last.

If artists and performers, as well as the rest of the nation, can remember how we banded together and loved our nation regardless of who sits in the White House like they did back then, we should be able to do the same today.

I remember every time I see my daughter.

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