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Zealous Display of Patriotism in Downtown Chicago

Thousands turn out to wave flags, chant "USA"
9.14.01, DALEY PLAZA- at noon today several thousand Chicagoans attended a zealously patriotic memorial service for the victims of Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. What was ostensibly billed as a solemn tribute to the dead instead became an almost frenzied display of nationalism, culminating in a chant of "USA! USA!" that lasted almost five minutes.

The Stars and Stripes were displayed prominently throughout the crowd, behind the stage, and from the surrounding rooftops. Almost as prevalent was a theme of red, white and blue in the form of shirts, scarves, bandannas, pins and more. Police and military personnel in full uniform added to the martial atmosphere.

The service began solemnly enough, with a somber tolling of church bells in rememberance of the deceased. It quickly changed course, however, when a chorus led the crowd in a stirring rendition of "America the Beautiful." This was followed by sustaned cheers and flag-waving all around. Several speakers, out of earshot to most of the crowd, nonetheless garnered several more outbursts of cheering, clapping, flag-waving and, ultimately, chants.

The services conducted in Washington, DC, with noted reactionaries such as Billy Graham, the Bushes (father and son), and Colin Powell in attendance, were less patriotic than this.

The final speaker, mounting the stage after "Amazing Grace" was played by a bagpiper, again to cheers and flag-waving, attempted to charge the crowd with returning to their homes and workplaces "in the name of Peace." He also asked the
assembled, many of whom were quickly walking back to work, still clutching flags, to turn to one another in an embrace and kiss of peace. Few heeded his call.

As the throngs broke up, several took up the call of "God bless America!"

God bless America, indeed: if this demonstration is at all indicative of the coming months, we shall be in dire need of it....



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