There were these footnotes to the story of America united.
American flags may be popping up everywhere and stores may be sold out, but flying them and displaying other patriotic signs and symbols hasn't been without controversy. A bus driver in Gresham, Oregon was suspended after he taped a cloth American flag to his side window in his bus when officials said it violated bus safety rules.
In Opa-Locka, Florida, two Miami Dade County firefighters refused to ride in an engine carrying an American flag. The two said the flag represented oppression. At Florida's Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, the head librarian told some employees to remove stickers they were wearing that said "proud to be an American." The librarian, Kathy Hoeth, said she didn't want to offend foreign students. "My concern was that if a student comes to the desk and sees the slogan, it might make it uncomfortable."
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, officials made a restaurant owner take down a sign that said: "God bless America. Woe to our enemies." A zoning violation was alleged. But the action came after three town council members said they didn't like the content of the banner. After a public outcry, the town council on Wednesday hastily voted to suspend enforcement of that sign regulation.
And out in Madison, Wisconsin, a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken an exception to the national day of prayer and remembrance and the president's participation in it last Friday. "Religion is not the answer. It is probably the problem," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, the group's leader, whose press release called the attack last week "the ultimate faith-based initiative."
At Chico State University in California, a candlelight vigil on Tuesday turned contentious when political science Professor George Wright stepped forward to say that, while the terrorist attacks were a major crime against humanity, President Bush wants to "kill innocent people, militarize the Middle East and colonize the Arab world to get oil for the Bush family." When several present shouted that they were there to honor the victims, Professor Wright stepped back into the crowd.
And in Germany, the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has caused a storm of protests by calling the attack "the greatest work of art ever." He quickly retracted the remark, but the outcry resulted in cancellation of two concerts involving him in Hamburg and his flight from the city.