With the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks having arrived, people are thinking back to that day last year and remembering how they felt as they watched the two towers collapse on television or heard the news of the event.
After the tragic attacks on New York City and Washington D.C., people turned to patriotism to show loyalty and pride in their country.
Accoring to Brady Phelps, a professor in the psychology department at SDSU, the need to show off our patriotism is the result of living in our society.
Patriotic clothing came into fashion after the attacks, as people wanted to show off their loyal spirit. People wore red, white and blue ribbons, donned red, white and blue clothing, flew the American flag and did anything imaginable with the flag to show that the American spirit would not and could not be broken by a suprise terrorist attack on national landmarks.
Flags disappeared from the shelves of the local Wal-Mart store following the attack. Red, white and blue items appeared on shelves throughout the store.
At times, it seemed that people almost formed a religion out of their patriotism. They almost worshipped the flag, hanging it out their car windows or using it for decorative purposes.
“Religion or patriotism, either action … will give purpose to life,” Phelps said.
Many people felt the need for conformity after the attacks to add some stability to their lives.
“Humans are social primates, being a part of a group probably was a value in our evolutionary history,” Phelps said. “Humans have a long history of conforming.”
The atmosphere of the country changed immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11. Late night talk show hosts stopped criticizing President George W. Bush’s character and his actions as president.
According to Phelps, the country suddenly had a need for a leader in a time of crisis and Bush was there, so he was made a leader.
“A crisis happened and he played the role well,” Phelps said.
The same could be said for New York City mayor Rudolph Guliani, who was not revered by most of his constituents until after the attacks, when he was made a hero.
To criticize the actions of the government at this time seemed unpatriotic because they were now working to protect us from our enemies.
People on the SDSU campus were profoundly affected by the attacks made on that Tuesday morning last fall.
It seemed like many of the students and faculty had family or friends who worked in the World Trade Center or in the Pentagon that they were concerned about. Suddenly the business of everyday life seemed less important than it had before.
Even those who were not directly affected by the attacks were impacted because it was the first time most of the student body had witnessed an attack on the United States.
“Immediately after, students were more seriously involved in the (religious) subject matter,” said Ann Marie Bahr, a professor of religion at SDSU. “They were more aware of how important it is to learn about these things.”
As time passed and the immediacy of the attacks wore off, the flags started to disappear from car windows and the country seemed to fall back into its old routine.
In a few years, the date of Sept. 11 may be a national holiday, like Memorial Day, or a day of rememberance, Phelps said.
Few people will be able to forget the impact that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have had on their lives. The anniversary of the attacks bring out the patriotic feelings that people first experienced when they found out about the attacks.