Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"In God We Trust": Do we all?

As I opened my wallet this morning to get some lunch money, I noticed something special about one of the five dollar bills. Upon further examination, I saw neat red lines of script written on the back of the bill. The message was religious , highlighting the presence of another official religious message on the bill. "IN GOD WE TRUST" is printed officially on all currency, and although the individual who wrote on this bill agrees "100%", this five dollar bill made me realize that not everyone in this country would feel the same.
I am a practicing Christian, so the phrase printed on the bill was never a problem for me. Neither was the Pledge of Allegiance, which states that America is "one nation under God", yet, America is truly far from a nation practicing one single religion. America prides its self upon its many forms of freedoms, religious freedom being one of them. Because of this, America is a very  diverse country, with its citizens and residents practicing many different religions, or none at all. This is exactly what some people come to America for: acting upon ones belief without consequence.

When these religious phrases are found throughout American culture, permanently plastered on symbols of the USA, it takes away some of the freedoms of the Americans who disagree, and in my opinion, this restriction is unfair. The people of America shouldn't have to be represented as something that they are not.

It could be assumed from the writing in the top right corner that the bill at some point was in Houston, Texas, and it ended up in my wallet in Chicago, Illinois. This could mean that this bill has been passed along for some while with the writing on it. In my opinion, I think that this shows that people have accepted a set religion in America, for this bill continued to be distributed. This message written on the bill could be viewed as to the country in the form of defacing currency as a sacred object of the nation. I wonder if somebody had written a note of disagreement, what would be the reaction? Is this fair?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11: A Brighter Side to the Story

"A hero is a man who does what he can" - Romain Rolland

This quote was is used in the short film documentary, Boatlift, an Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience, that I watched this morning, in honor of the anniversary of 9/11 (video above). To me, this phrase simplifies the day of September 11th, 2001, for Americans found anyway they possibly could help others during this devastating disaster.

Today began as I arrived at school this morning subdued and saddened as a result of the news coverage of 9/11 I had watched earlier that day. I did not expect the uplifting twist of the same event which would be shown to me in advisory. This documentary, Boatlift, an Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience, focused on the honorable actions of the boat captains who came together and risked their lives to help evacuate lower Manhattan after the attack on the Twin Towers. This struck me as such a beautiful story of heroism that not only exposes a positive outcome of the tremendous tragedy, but also illustrates ideal American values.

 The civilians trapped on the lower end of Manhattan were left with no escape to safety other than leaving by boat. Seeing such a need, many ships in the harbor came to aid in evacuation. Upon the signal from the Coast Guard, large fleets of boats rushed to provide their services. "If it floated and it could get there, it got there", said one captain, interviewed during the film, on the amazing act of teamwork and courage. In a time of need, Americans proved that they could pull themselves together, putting their own worries aside in order to protect their nation and their fellow citizens. Americans show such pride towards their country, and September 11th, 2001 was an example of American citizens joining together for the greater good of the country, which in my mind, is part of the idealistic "American Dream".

The boat evacuation was also a humbling experience for some, for it created all people equal in that moment of terror. One persons wealth couldn't buy them out of that situation. Americans acted with confidence and trust in each other and a pride for the strong moral values of their country. This is the "American Dream" that sometimes is not the reality in our world today. On this day, the citizens of the United States were all brought into the same damaged position, and rose above it all to help together, which is another part of the "American Dream" of equality. Captain of the Amberjack V, Vincent Ardolino, who was involved in the evacuation, commented on the situation, stating, "[We had] housewives...we had executives, and the thing that was the best, everyone helped everyone."

Although an epic tragedy, 9/11 was an event that to this day represents the power of American citizens to act together in times of crisis; a story that can be told with pride, and fulfilling multiple aspects of the "American Dream".