Since 2014, visitors to Lower Manhattan have been able to visit One World Trade Center. Standing at 1776 feet, One World Trade Center is a monument to the resilience of Americans in the aftermath of an attack on our beloved union. As I stood at the 9/11 Memorial and observed its surroundings this past weekend on a visit to New York City, I was reminded of a feeling I had as I attended the Congressional Baseball Game last week in Washington, D.C.
On July 14, Rep. Steve Scalise was shot while at practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, a game in which Democrats and Republicans battle it out on the baseball field instead of on the House and Senate floors, with the proceeds going towards charity. This year, the game took on a special meaning in the aftermath of the shooting.
While I had already planned to attend the game, I have to admit I was a little nervous about going. In light of the attack, my friends and I considered not attending. My opinion changed, however, when a friend of mine wrote in our group chat, “As an American, I will not succumb to fear. If we allow ourselves to discontinue our daily activities in civil society the people who wish to undermine that society have won.”
President Trump made a similar statement in a video which was played before the first pitch, a message around which both sides could rally: “We will NOT be intimidated.” Although President Trump and I may not agree on everything, his message at the beginning of the game was spot-on. If we succumb to fear, the violent lone wolf wins. If we succumb to fear, terror wins. If we succumb to fear, we are defeated.
The American way of life prevailed at the Congressional Baseball Game, and could be seen through the actions of both the players and the attendees. This was evident when the Democrats introduced their two female players – the only two female players in the game. The crowd cheered when Reps. Linda Sanchez and Nanette Diaz Barragán were introduced. However, nothing compared to when those players actually played. The crowd went wild: a shining example of our pursuit for liberty and equality regardless of gender, race, religion, or political party. A refusal to give in to those who would seek to drive us apart through fear. At the game, fans in red hats cheered for the players in blue, and the players in red garnered the support of even the most blue-adorned fan. In the aftermath of an attack intended to tear us apart, this was a moment that brought us together.
It is important for us not to alter our way of life in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, or of any such attack on our society. While Rep. Scalise’s assailant did not associate with any terrorist group such as Daesh or Al-Qaeda, his intent was to inflict terror and to make a clear statement against a Congressional representative as well as American values of democracy. In that sense, terrorists - whether groups or individuals - win if we change our way of life in the aftermath of an attack.
While horrific, the attack on innocent Americans on 9/11 brought a grieving nation together, allowing us to recommit to those virtues which we hold true: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Although precautions such as heightened airport security can be frustrating, they make our society stronger and safer. Those are necessary alterations in order to ensure the protection of American citizens. Changing our lifestyle patterns, however, (i.e. no longer traveling, not attending the baseball game) cripples our society and allows our freedom and our liberty to be dictated by others. This is no way to live.
One of the amazing aspects of the United States is its resilience in the face of turmoil. One World Trade Center is an amazing example of such resilience, and the shooting at the Congressional Baseball practice should remind us why we should not alter the ways we carry out our everyday lives in the aftermath of attacks on our democracy.
Natalie Fahlberg is a fourth year student at Princeton, and a Fellow of The Campus Conservative. She is spending the summer undergoing military training at Fort Knox, in Kentucky.