Remembering Sept. 11

<b>Andy Rooney </b>Applauds America's Response

Weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:

We all look for something good about the worst things that happen.

The good thing about what happened Sept. 11 is, it didn't happen to just New York and Washington, it happened to our country - .all of us. Americans feel closer together than they did before that terrible day. People to whom New York had been a foreign country suddenly felt an affinity and an affection for it.

Because the mainland of our America had never been attacked before, no one really knew how we would react to one. It was possible to imagine millions of Americans panicked and scrambling to flee the danger. In New York if it was the target, maybe they'd clog the highways headed south and west. Well, they didn't do that. People in New York are going about their business.

We have made heroes of those who died in the Sept. 11 attack and it was the right thing to do. Our attitude has turned the event into an emotional triumph instead of a bitter defeat.

I was working as a young reporter in London in 1942 when the Germans were bombing the city every night. Much of London was destroyed. It was terrible.

The editor of a London newspaper talked about how the English reacted to the bombing. I wrote it down and his remarks were so good I've kept them all these years:
Listen to this:

"Many of us were anxious about the public reaction" he said. "We didn't know how the people would stand up to it. When the first bombs fell, neither the Government nor the newspapers knew what the people who had been hit were thinking and how they would take it. That evening, putting out the newspaper, we decided to assume that they had acted heroically. The next morning we printed all the stories that came in to us of their bravery.

"Right then" the editor said "the newspapers fixed the pattern of how people ought to behave. Perhaps they would have behaved that way anyway. But there is good and bad in all of us and the right example at the right moment can make all the difference in the way men act."

Our American newspapers and television did the same thing with Sept. 11. They were filled with stories of heroism. Everyone knew what was expected of them and they behaved as they were expected to.

Reinforcing our resolve to be brave and good in adversity is reason enough for all the attention we are giving this Sept. 11 anniversary.