- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2001

Flags flying. Packed houses of worship. An outpouring of generosity. Is this the "new" look of American society, even if the war on global terrorism gets messy and lasts for years?
Americans' shock and grief turned to patriotic unity, prayer and a desire to help the families of victims in the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
It remains to be seen whether cynicism and apathy even anti-war sentiments will counter the strains of "God Bless America."
"War really does transform society in ways that can be straightforward or complicated," says Kurt Piehler, director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee. "There are no easy answers. War can unify people or it can divide them."
World War II and the Vietnam War did both as they went on, Mr. Piehler points out.
World War II generally is remembered as a time of great patriotism and sacrifice on the homefront, but Americans initially were divided about getting involved. Once the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack, though, the nation united with a sense of purpose.
"After Pearl Harbor, World War II became a very popular war," says Peter Kuznick, professor of history at American University. "[Americans] felt they had a common sense of purpose in fighting the war against fascism and militarism."
And although the war in Vietnam is remembered as a time of protest at home, Americans in 1965 "by and large supported it," Mr. Piehler says.
Adds Mr. Kuznick: "The anti-war sentiment built up very slowly. It wasn't until about 1968 that it became a broad, popular cultural phenomenon."
Students who attended campus protests in the late '60s are themselves the parents of college students today. The world has changed so much, Mr. Kuznick says, and the attitudes of today's young people will affect not only military enlistment but overall support for the new war on terrorism.
"It is different this time," he says. "The kids in the 1960s were still patriotic. They had faith in the U.S. But because of Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, students today tend to approach situations like this with a high degree of skepticism.
"It is not that this generation is cynical they do a great deal of volunteering it is just that they are skeptical about war. They are looking for other kinds of approaches, such as getting rid of the conditions that breed terrorism."
Looking for other approaches is the peaceful tactic. An anti-war movement is bound to come, Mr. Kuznick predicts.
"I don't think Americans have the stomach for a protracted struggle," he says. "If this student generation starts to get drafted, there will be an immediate anti-draft movement. The '60s generation grew up with the Cold War; this generation has grown up with peace and affluence. Going to fight in Afghanistan is the farthest thing from their minds. War is a video game to them."

'Remember New York'
Meanwhile, Army recruiters say traffic has picked up at local recruiting offices, but enlistment has not jumped dramatically.
Nick Snider, an Army training officer from 1963 to 1965, says he hopes the younger generation will remember in coming months that it is an honor to be an American.
"We say, 'Remember Pearl Harbor,'" Mr. Snider adds. "I think we'll have 'Remember New York.' When you have something as devastating as this, people will never forget. I don't think any of us want to forget this. The American public is not just outraged, it is wounded."
Mr. Snider, of Atlanta, turned his own collection of World War II memorabilia and patriotic items into the National Museum of Patriotism. He says he is impressed with the displays of patriotism that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.
Before the terrorists struck New York and Washington, Mr. Snider says, about 19 percent of American households owned a U.S. flag. That number jumped to about 75 percent and is growing, he says.
"Grade schools, colleges, young and old," Mr. Snider says. "There is a sense of seeking justice, not necessarily revenge. I certainly hope we can sustain it. If I can do no more than put a flag on my mailbox, I feel I am a participant in the war. Patriotism is the glue that keeps this country together."
But there can be a downside to patriotic fervor, says Katharine Ewing, a cultural anthropologist at Duke University.
"The image of war is so closely connected with patriotism and fighting against the enemy," Ms. Ewing says. "Patriotism brings people together, but it can also create aboundary. That can be dangerous to create a world where we have allies and enemies. I'm not sure the banner of 'Proud to be an American' is going to lead to world peace."

Learning and praying
"We have received a number of calls where people want guarantees that children should be taught patriotism and democracy," Maryland Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick says.
Instructional programs in Maryland public schools already include such topics, Mrs. Grasmick says. Even so, the state Board of Education will work with local school boards and superintendents who wish to revise their curriculums in response to current events.
Mrs. Grasmick sent a letter to local superintendents asking them to be more "pro-active" in implementing social studies standards that require students to identify and explain the principles of the U.S. government and democracy.
Kirk T. Schroeder, chairman of the Virginia Board of Education, says his state's public schools are a step ahead because of a recent updating of the social studies curriculum to meet tougher Standards of Learning requirements.
In one local example, Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech announced that new lesson plans are being drawn up for teaching tolerance and helping students develop respect and understanding for one another.
Americans also flocked to churches, synagogues and mosques in the past 20 days. They went to pray for President Bush and his advisers as well as for the thousands of victims and their families, but also to find comfort, to support one another and to reinforce community spirit.
"There certainly has been a huge upswing in religion," says William Barbieri, associate professor of religion at Catholic University. "This is due to the need to try and deal with the events of Sept. 11, more so than the prospect of going to war."
But wartime is historically a time of turning to God, Mr. Barbieri adds.
"There is the old saw: 'There are no atheists in foxholes,'" the religion professor says. "It was my impression that there was an increase in attendance during the [Persian] Gulf war. In the last weeks, there has been an intense desire to serve, and church can be for outreach and service as well as worship. That certainly went on in World War II.
"I'm not sure how long the effects will last this time," he says. "It is going to depend on what happens. Quite likely, we will not have a war like World War II. The actions might not be broadcast, and there is not going to be the same kind of impact on perceptions."

Helping each other
Religion, like patriotism, can have a dual effect, Ms. Ewing says. Coming together as a religious community, the cultural anthropologist says, also could give the impression of turning against those of a different faith.
"The turn to religion can be positive and community-building," she says. "Or it can be divisive, creating the mentality of the Christian world vs. the Muslim world. This conflict really is not about Christians vs. Muslims, though. It is the West vs. certain people who resist the power of the West."
Mr. Barbieri says he hopes Americans use this time to learn more about Islam and to seek commonalities in those of all religions.
Debra Snider, vice president of nonprofit services for GuideStar, a company that researches charitable organizations, predicts the months ahead will bring sustained charitable giving and volunteerism.
"The response so far for the people in New York has been so great, they have had to turn volunteers away," she says. "This is proof that even people in their 20s are not so self-involved."
While large charities like the United Way and American Red Cross will feel the positive impact of Americans' good will, local charities may suffer, particularly if the economy continues to decline.
"There is only a certain pool of money people have to give," Ms. Snider says. "There has been so much focus on New York and the Pentagon, I think there is going to be fallout in the local community. All those local charities in your back yard are still going to need help.
"Last week, the appropriate response was to see what you can do for the World Trade Center victims. This week, the appropriate response is to go to your local charities and see what they need."
Vaishali Honawar contributed to this report.

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