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Outburst of patriotism after 9/11 still evident

BY SOOJUNG CHANG
For the Daily
Published March 8, 2002

Nearly six months after terrorist attacks brought down the World Trade Center towers, the initial outburst of patriotism that followed in its aftermath has become less conspicuous, although it is still omnipresent.

The events of Sept. 11 brought about an outpouring of patriotism that America has not seen since the Gulf War. Open displays of patriotism were evident everywhere, as Americans nationwide began displaying flags on their homes, cars and businesses.

"It got to the point where people who didn't have a flag looked bad," Engineering junior Danielle Fleischer said.

"There was a great surge in everything from flags to clothing," LSA freshman Lauren Gariepy said.

Not only did the sales of flags and flag-related items skyrocket, but the mentality of the nation as a whole underwent a transformation.

"Everyone grew less cynical for a while about making fun of our country and government," Gariepy said.

While most people found the gush of patriotic sentiment heartwarming, others were skeptical.

"I think that the patriotism we've been asked to do is very superficial," history Prof. Matthew Countryman said. "No one is being asked to do anything but support" the administration's policies.

Countryman also pointed out the dangers of taking patriotism to an excessive level. He was troubled that some have stopped criticizing or opposing the government's policies in the name of patriotism.

"Even raising questions is considered unpatriotic. There's very little opposition. We're not having a public debate about the best way to proceed," he said.

As patriotic sentiment nationwide dissipates, the opposition that Countryman said is necessary for our country might be forthcoming.

"You notice less flags being displayed," Engineering sophomore Shannon Glasbie said.

LSA senior Juan Baepna agreed that there were less open displays of patriotism, but said, "Deep down it's still there, it's just not as prominent as it once was. I think overall people still have a deep rooted feeling of patriotism."

But history Prof. Tom Guglielmo said he disagreed that American patriotism is decreasing.

"I'm not sure I can remember another time in my life when flags were so omnipresent - on lapels, on store windows, on bumpers, on team jerseys, among millions of other places," he said.