GREEN BAY - The terror of the September 11 attacks on America brought with it a rise in patriotism across the country. But over the past 10 years, many are left to wonder what happened to that patriotic spirit.
When the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center came crashing down on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists killed thousands, but they could not destroy the American spirit. In the midst of the destruction, those on the scene or who watched from afar will tell you our country's patriotic pride was elevated.
"After 9/11, it was really a sort of coming together of people helping each other, supporting each other throughout the country. And that's what I see as the important part of patriotism," said Rose Scannell of Green Bay.
Rose and Randy Scannell's son Ben Edinger was a computer specialist with the Marines at the time of September 11. But after the attack, he stepped up efforts to join the initial invasion of Iraq that followed in search of weapons of mass destruction.
Rose says her son was the definition of patriotism: love for or devotion to one's country.
"He wanted to be a part of something bigger than him, and he wanted to do his best," said Rose Scannell.
And he wasn't alone.
"Recruiting definitely had a spike after 9/11. America is very patriotic," said Sgt. First Class Richard Falconberry with the U.S. Army Recruiting office in Ashwaubenon.
Falconberry had been a Army recruiter for two years on Sept. 11, 2001.
"There's no way that terrorists are going to come to the United States attack us on our land and expect us not to retaliate. It's just not going to happen. It's the American way," said Falconberry.
For others, the American way was shown by displaying the stars and stripes. Angie Nelson sells American flags for Fly Me Flags in Green Bay.
"We had a line out the store and wrapped around the street," remembers Nelson.
Nelson said the surge in patriotism drove up sales.
That red, white and blue symbol of patriotism is what clinical psychologist Tara Robertson says people struggling with September 11 could wrap themselves around.
"I think people had to ban together for survival after 9/11 and it really brought the country together," said Robertson with Bellin Health.
But Robertson says as the fear faded away, and time passed, so understandably did the patriotic display that brought people together.
"It's very common for those feelings to subside after a period of time in the healing that takes place and I think that's a lot of what we've seen over the past ten years," said Robertson.
As for Nelson she continues to sell flags, but these days flags representing the Brewers and Packers are the top sellers. The struggling economy has even overtaken patriotic pride for some.
"You see a lot of empty flagpoles out there," said Nelson. "They say, 'We kind of took it out of our budget, can't afford to do it this year,'" said Nelson.
Military recruiting has fallen off a bit in 10 years, but patriotism among those enlisting today remains strong.
"Huge huge part of it. The reason I wanted to be a law enforcement officer and I think I can do my country well by being in the Army," said new recruit Kevin Stringer.
But recruits like Stringer can also make $51,000 for a three-year commitment. That kind of money comes at a time when national unemployment hovers above nine percent.
"The economy is part of it," added Falconberry.
As for Rose and Randy Scannell, they continue to see the true effects of patriotism in others.
"We see complete strangers want to help us out and it's been so very helpful for us," said Rose Scannell.
You see, the September 11 attacks brought on the War on Terror, which claimed their son's life in 2004. For some, the patriotic feeling never goes away.
"The hope is we're making a better world that's what we always have to feel like, that's what we're working towards," said Rose Scannell.
Psychologists say leading up to the anniversary of September 11, with all the attention paid to it, it's natural for Americans to feel more patriotic. And it's likely that swell in pride will be revisited year after year at this same time.
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