Across the country Monday, there was the sound of determination as Americans got back to work — to the office, to the shop, off to school — with a desire not to ignore the tragedy of last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, but to transcend it.
“If people don’t get back to business, the terrorists are going to win, ” a construction worker called out from an Atlanta site, working as he said it.
In downtown Atlanta, and throughout the nation, people set out to resume the routine of daily life, determined to send a signal to terrorists. “To send the message that you have not won, “ said Molly Smith, walking her daughter Annie to a school bus stop. Matt Carter, on the job at his Dallas electric company, echoed the sentiment. “By getting back to work we are showing our strong sense of resolve.”
“That’s the only thing I can do right now,” said Emily Bell, a bank consultant who, like many, feels the need to do something. “If that’s the only thing I can do, then that’s what I will do.”
‘We Can’t Just Go Hide’
Many Americans, like college student James Chandler, say, though, they are still numb from the tragedy. “You really just walk around,” he shakes his head, looking up at the Atlanta skyline as a plane passes overhead, “and you really don’t know.”
But David Slezak says he worked to shake off the temptation to give in to despair. “We can’t just go hide somewhere.”
“No,” adds Tommy Daniels, “As an American, I just can’t do it. That’s not what our country is built on. That’s why I went to work the next day, and I will continue to go to work.”
There were signs of Americans’ resolve on the job everywhere. Lucy Anne Bancroft, a nurse practitioner in Atlanta, walked briskly to work with a flag waving from her backpack. She says she has noticed that, in addition to the resolve of Americans, she has seen a great deal of patience and empathy.
“It seems like people on the way to work were much more polite,” she remarked with a laugh.
Signs of Patriotism
A.J. Price, planned to take part of his day to help the economy. He was going against the flow of the stock market sell-off. “I’m going to help the economy a bit by buying stock, taking my tax rebate check to buy stock, help prop it up.”
Atlanta tailor Eldar Abramov, a Russian immigrant, was overwhelmed by the America he is seeing right now. "I'm 10 years here, for the first time in United States, everybody together, it's ...,” he says, his hand on his heart, searching for the right word, unable to find it. “Patriotic,” he adds a moment later.
Here, firemen also collected donations for just a couple of days and raised nearly half a million dollars. “One guy even wrote me a check for 100 dollars” to send to New York, said one.
This is what the terrorists unsurfaced in America. “You just don’t want to go back to the way you were Monday,” said Jeffrey Martin, an employee of Georgia Pacific, “I think you want to learn something from this.” Indeed, added his colleague, David Thews, “Day to day life, I just appreciate what I have much, much more. I’m never going to be the same. Never.”