John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Life and history cannot be divorced from each other, as we have learned once again; and once again, we have seen how quickly the entire world will change, while we’re busy making other plans.

In the early hours of December 7, 1941, many Americans were in bed, or going to church, their minds more focused, no doubt, on the upcoming holidays than on much else. By the day’s end, however, America had changed—-we had been attacked, brought into a war that was already raging across much of the globe. Things have never been the same since.

When I awoke on September 11, 2001, my thoughts were focused more on how I didn’t want to get out of bed and commute through rush-hour traffic, just to sit in my German language class, wishing I had another cup of coffee. I thought about how wonderful the weekend before had been, how I had spent it as a playwright working with actors and directors in Philadelphia. I thought about how much I hoped the lunch in my bag hadn’t been smashed accidentally by my school books. I’m sure some variation of what I was thinking was going through the minds of most Americans as they traveled to work or school. I didn’t think the world would change. Yet as I entered the parking lot of my university, the music was interrupted by a news broadcast—a jet plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. After ten minutes of listening to this report, a second plane hit the other tower. The reality of what had happened would not sink in for at least two hours, and by then, the Pentagon had been hit, and both towers had collapsed, killing thousands.

First numbness comes—-shock, the unreality of what happened. The thoughts that, “This couldn’t happen here; especially not New York!” Then the anger and grief, the realization that thousands may be dead—more than any number since World War II. That anger is an important part of the process cannot be denied. But it is with sadness and disgust that I hear the stories of Arab Americans, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and other dark-skinned people, harassed, threatened; their homes, businesses, and houses of worship vandalized. American citizens are harassing them, and American citizens—our own people—are the victims. This is not what America is about.

America has survived revolution, occupation, riots, genocide, slavery, several economic depressions, civil war, two world wars, and terrorist actions, committed both by outsiders and by our own citizens. Still we survive. Why? Because the beautiful thing about America is that we exist not as a tribe, but as an idea. We do not exist because a group of people happened to live in one spot for a thousand years. America is not an ethnic group. You need not subscribe to any creed; you need not be any race. The only thing you need to be an American is the belief in the freedom and equality of all people. Rich or poor, black or white, man or woman, Gentile, Jew, or Muslim-—we are all equal and deserving of freedom, and we can all be Americans. This is our greatest strength as a nation—-the ability to accept the best and brightest the world has to offer, and make it our own; the ability to be not so much a melting pot, but a sharing of cultures, of the beauty of understanding and diversity. We will not let what happened on September 11 take this most fundamental belief from us; we will cherish what makes us American. We must not let our emotions, our anger, rule our intellect, and give up those unique beliefs and rights which make us American.

As the poet Dylan Thomas would say, we will “not go gentle into that good night/ {but} rage, rage, against the dying of the light.” The light of freedom will not be extinguished by the actions of a few, but will burn even brighter through the union of the diverse people of this nation; through this union, we will truly earn the name the United States.

dem bones says : You don't have to, but you may consider moving your 'call to america' to the daylog, part III, of that awful day. I actually value these last couple of daylogs because they reveal an incredible number of perspectives... it's nice to have them all together...

Done and done.