[This post is an editorial and, therefore, unlike typical Westlake Revelations posts to date. I was watching a story about September 11. The US Coast Guard put a radio call out asking all available boats to help evacuate the island of Manhattan. Within minutes, countless boats of every shape and size converged on the island in one of the greatest examples of people selflessly helping people ever to be seen. The story so moved me, I wrote the following. –Neil]

On September 11, 2001, the world’s worst and best showed their faces on the same day for one of the ultimate confrontations of good vs. evil.

First, the world’s worst did the unthinkable. The world changed not because people died (horrible enough), but because war didn’t follow the rules. The attack was not about damage or even about numbers — other wars have had far more of both. Instead, the events of September 11 attacked the heart and soul of our country, and the general mindset of peace. The attack was the essence of terror — spreading fear.

A weak people would have succumbed. Instead, Americans and the world simply said “no” and came together.

We came together in a way that most of us have never seen; that, at most, we’ve only read about in history books. Our response as a people was guided by morals, by simply doing whatever was the right thing to do. Our actions demonstrated not self-preservation, but rather our willingness to persevere and, more important, our selfless reaching out to help our fellow Americans. This was represented through, among other behaviors,

* the actions of our first responders bravely charged into burning buildings;

* the incredible response to the US Coast Guard’s call for “all available boats” and the subsequent
evacuation of some 500,000 New Yorkers in nine hours;

* the extraordinary heroism of the passengers of Flight 93.

There were countless examples, large and small, of this spirit. Americans from one end of the country to the other showed us what they were made of. Firefighters from around the nation converged on Ground Zero. Civilians manned soup kitchens. People sent homemade cookies, hand lotion, and socks to those working to search for victims and clear debris. Countless people from other countries, and their governments, contributed as well.

In the weeks that followed September 11, crime was almost nonexistent. America was wounded, but her people and her friends responded with kindness, patriotism, and a realization of what was most important to us all.

No doubt about it. The morning of September 11 was a horrible nightmare and showed an example of the worst of humanity. But in the hours that followed, we saw the best of humanity, and the rest of that day and days to follow were some of the greatest days we as human beings, and Americans, have ever demonstrated.

Today, we not only remember those who perished in that despicable act, but we also tip our hats to the pure good coming out of all of us across America. I wish the morning of September 11 had never occurred. But if we had to have gone through the horror, I’m grateful to have witnessed the essence of the American spirit.

— Neil Ticktin

See more on the Coast Guard call for boats to help at:

And, additional writings at:

(Former link of http://coastguarddigest.com/2011/09/08/boatlift-on-911-the-evacuation-from-lower-manhattan/ no longer works.

See the National September 11 Memorial and Museum: