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God Shed His Grace on Thee/America: A Tribute to Heroes/Brian W. Fairbanks-Writer

America: A Tribute to Heroes: God Shed His Grace On Thee

Review-America: A Tribute to Heroes
God Shed His Grace on Thee
By Brian W. Fairbanks

America: a Tribute to Heroes, an historic star-studded telethon to raise money for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, claimed two commercial free hours of prime time television on Friday night September 21, 2001. Presented on all the major TV networks and cable channels, and available to any station that wanted to join the proceedings, it was seen on some 35 stations in all. A tasteful, subdued affair, there was no audience, no tote board, no introductions, and no glitz of any kind.

Presented live from various undisclosed locations, celebs like Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Reba McIntyre, Al Pacino, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone answered phone calls from donors, many of whom seemed as interested in chatting as in contributing money, while their colleagues recounted acts of heroism from September 11, 2001 or performed inspiring musical numbers.

Bruce Springsteen opened the proceedings on a stage bathed in the light from hundreds of candles (the only set throughout) singing the appropriately titled “My City of Ruins.” Then a subdued Tom Hanks appeared on stage to explain the reason behind the telethon. Quoting one of the passengers who rebelled against the hijackers on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, Hanks said “We’re going to do something.” That something included raising “a great deal of money.” And so it went for the next two hours. A song, a statement, a song, and an occasional glimpse of the stars in the phone bank.

The Dixie Chicks introduced a new song called “I Believe in Love”; Neil Young covered the late John Lennon’s “Imagine”; Paul Simon performed “Bridge Over Troubled Water”; Billy Joel saluted the Big Apple with “New York State of Mind” with the hat of a fallen firefighter resting on his piano; Mariah Carey sang “Hero”; Celine Dion belted out a rendition of “God Bless America”; and all of the participants joined Willie Nelson for “America, the Beautiful.” During breaks in the music, Kelsey Grammar quoted John F. Kennedy (“We will bear any burden…”), Will Smith and Muhammad Ali condemned terrorism while defending Islam, Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits praised the NYPD, Robert DeNiro spoke of FDR and civil liberties, and, finally, Clint Eastwood expressed the need for a united America.

Initial reports suggest the show raised some $150 million, which is the approximate amount a producer would need to raise to cast Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, and Jim Carrey in the same movie. At least none of these overpaid stars tried to make the less affluent viewer feel guilty about not contributing, once a favorite ploy of the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon, although Clooney, with that smug smirk of his, came close to reviving memories of Sammy Davis, Jr. Sammy, for those too young to remember, bounced on stage every Labor Day wearing enough jewelry to create a chain as tall as the WTC stood before the attack. Pointing his glittering finger at the audience, he'd try to make the average working person feel guilty for not parting with the cash that the Rat Packer could afford to throw away on useless trinkets.

But Sammy's conspicuous consumption is common in the American free enterprise system that so offends Osama bin Laden and his nest of poisonous snakes, and it's the system American soldiers will soon donate their blood to preserve.

God shed his grace on thee.

© 2001 Brian W. Fairbanks

About the author

FURTHER READING:
President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11
9/11: Malfeasance or Treason?
The 9/11 Cover-Up Commission * 9/11 for the Truth
Inside Job * 9/11 Skeptics Blog
Bush Knew - An American Requiem
Eleven: Eleven * Amazing $20 Bill 9/11 Coincidence

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