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In the aftermath of September 11, it became fashionable to say, “Nothing will ever be the same.” That isn’t true. The hyperbole is understandable: the sudden sacrifice of thousands of lives seemed to demand a corresponding measure of sacrifice among the rest of us. Sacrifices there will be, as the president has made clear. But not the sacrifice of America’s essential spirit or its way of life. There are many strands in the national fiber. Bold ones like heroism and solidarity and sense of purpose, which were on such impressive display after the attack. And also more modest ones, like individuality, humor, frivolity and fun. These more playful American traits may be on temporary furlough. But they will be back, and soon, because terrorists could not possibly destroy them. America is getting back to normal, and we will know it is there when once again we hear that still, small voice asking, anybody know where to get a great new pair of shoes?
- Kenneth Auchincloss, writing in a 9/27/2001 Newsweek special issue on ‘The Spirit of America’]