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Amazing sights of goodness popping up all over

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WASHINGTON — At the horrible cost of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, America is showing its better, heroic self — and so are its friends.

Some amazing sights have come in the past two weeks. They show the good among us just as powerfully as the photos of destruction show the evil. Maybe we haven't paid enough attention to them.

To help count such blessings, here are some of my favorites:

Members of Congress — who long have been locked in bitter partisan fights — spontaneously singing "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps on the day of the attack. They have been acting truly united since then, and wear red, white and blue ribbons.

Video of Pentagon workers who had just run out of that burning building. It shows someone asking for a few volunteers to help some who are trailing. First a few workers, then dozens and then hundreds run back toward the flames to help.

American flags and banners on virtually every highway overpass in Washington — and on most corners and homes. Local stores sell out as quickly as new flags arrive.

Congress not only immediately passing $20 billion for New York relief, but doubling it — with President Bush's blessing — when New York senators said that much more was needed.

Lisa Beamer sitting as an honored guest at President Bush's speech to Congress. She is the widow of Todd Beamer, who may have led a passenger revolt on a hijacked plane likely headed for the Capitol (where I happened to be at the time). Maybe her husband saved me, because the plane crashed instead in a remote Pennsylvania field. Beamer was a common person, who became an uncommon hero — and maybe saved my life.

A parade of top foreign presidents flying to Washington to show they support America. Particularly touching was British Prime Minister Tony Blair's words that America was the only country standing with Britain at its darkest hour in World War II, and Britons remember that and will stand with America now.

Hearing the "Star Spangled Banner" played at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and on the streets of Paris, and even in Cairo.

My local church congregation singing, "My Country 'Tis of Thee." I sat on the stand looking out — and many people had tears in their eyes or were openly crying. Not long ago, no one would see such a thing from a mere patriotic song.

My favorite sight takes some explaining. The day after the attack, a few teenagers in my neighborhood went to a corner near my home in Germantown, Md., on a four-lane highway that has a huge, grassy median strip.

They lighted a few candles in a spontaneous demonstration. A few cars honked in support as they passed. Soon others in the neighborhood saw them and joined. Soon there were scores of people.

Passing cars not only honked, but many pulled quickly into the median and came out to join the group. Some sang. We shared flags and candles pulled hurriedly out of closets. The local fire department joined in — and policemen showed up to turn on their sirens in support.

As I watched my 14-year-old son hold a paper flag and cheer passing cars that honked in support, I noticed that the man next to him who was yelling even louder and waving a flag even more furiously was a neighbor who is a taxi driver from Pakistan.

I live in a highly diverse neighborhood, and noticed other neighbors who have come from all parts of Asia, Europe, Africa — and the Americas. We don't talk enough to each other. But on that night, we were all Americans showing we will stand together. When that hit me, some military helicopters approached. We live beneath the airpath between

Washington and Camp David. Since almost all other flights were then grounded, we wondered if those helicopters carried top government officials.

We all waved. The little helicopter convoy did something unexpected. It circled us looking at all the candles. Maybe we showed the president, vice president or their aides that all Americans support them and are looking up to them.

Deseret News Washington correspondent Lee Davidson can be reached by e-mail at lee@desnews.com