In observance of Patriot Day, The Wilson Times republished two editorials written shortly after 9/11. Here is one of them, published on Sept. 19, 2001.
Sunday’s community service on the Wilson County Courthouse steps epitomized what is good and right with America and with this community. The service was put together by the Wilson Human Relations Commission and area churches. It included different faiths, different races and different theologies, all joining together to comfort the community in its grief, sadness and anger over the events of Sept. 11.
The keynote speaker, N.C. Supreme Court Justice G.K. Butterfield Jr., is an African-American, who reminded the audience that the Human Relations Commission was born out of the cataclysm of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Ministers white and black spoke. A brief speech in Spanish was read. Interpreters for the deaf were present. Prayers were offered by an Islamic imam and by a Jewish layman.
The theme of unity and diversity was fitting for an American small town. While we are different in appearance and experiences, we are all Americans united by an allegiance to democratic ideals and dreams that can become reality. And we are collectively hurt and saddened by attacks on innocent Americans.
Only in America, a nation of immigrants, can we celebrate the oxymoronic concepts of diversity and unity at once. This nation, like no other, has gained strength from its melting pot of divergent cultures that have been absorbed into the American culture. Better than any other country, the United States has succeeded in judging people by their abilities and productiveness, not by their ancestry, their color, their religion or their kinship.
In times of war, such as we now face against a vast terrorist network, Americans have sometimes forgotten their principles. Loyal Japanese-Americans were interned in the fear that gripped this country during World War II. There have been reports of vigilante attacks on Arab-Americans in the days since Sept. 11.
But, for the most part, Americans have recognized that a few misguided criminals, not all Muslims or all people of Arab ancestry, committed these horrendous crimes. Wilson is home to a substantial population of Lebanese descendants who are pillars of the community. A number of Muslims live here. In his remarks Sunday at the courthouse, Imam Dawud Abdus-Salaam missed an opportunity to tell his audience that orthodox Islam is a religion of peace, and the radical terrorists who hijack airplanes and kill innocent people do not represent his religion.
The horrors committed against this country Sept. 11 have unified it across religious, ethnic, racial, regional and political lines as nothing ever has before. If we remain unified and keep our sights on the goal of eradicating terrorism around the globe, we will succeed.