An Ode To America

Why are Americans so united? They don't resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations.

Some of them are nearly extinct; others are incompatible with one another; and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are.

Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about.

The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colours of the national flag.

They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: God Bless America!

Silent as a rock I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different TV channels. There were Clint Eastwood, WilIie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Sylvester Stallone, James Wood and many others whom no film or producer could ever bring together.

The solidarity of the American spirit turned them into a choir. Actually choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul.

What neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton nor Colin PowelI could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert.

I donít know how it happened that this obsessive singing of America did not sound croaky, nationalist or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you werenít able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests.

I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours, listening to the story of the guy who went down 11 floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, and of the California hockey player who fought with the terrorists and helped prevent a plane from hitting another target and possibly killing many more people.

Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.

What unites Amercans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money?

I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases that risk sounding like commnonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.

Only freedom can work such miracles.

By Cornel Nistorescu, a Romanian journalist, writing for the Enenimentul Zilei

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