Its echo is heard with the beginning of each school day. It’s heard in the steadfast determination of truck drivers, railway workers, and airline pilots who, despite concerns for their personal safety or their cargo, refuse to let our nation’s commerce be held hostage.
Open stores, armies of clerks and throngs of customers loudly proclaim the great American experiment’s success – that our economy will not be hijacked, and we will travel freely.
It’s softly spoken by parents, reported by television anchors and carefully shared by librarians.
Freedom’s ring never sounded louder than when firemen, rescue workers, EMTs, doctors, nurses, construction workers, and people from all walks of life joined together, working side by side to pull survivors from the rubble – its sacrifice never greater than when a patriotic group of passengers rushed a plane’s hijackers rather than Kamikaze into Congress or the White House.
And it stands tall in our nation’s armed services – ready, willing and able to defend freedom for generations to come.
Nearly 7,000 souls met their fate on Sept. 11 – innocent victims of a fanatic plot carefully orchestrated to paralyze America. It didn’t work.
Teachers still passed along the knowledge that forms freedom’s very foundation. Consumers kept the economy moving, politicians worked on solutions and America showed its true colors – red, white and blue – much as bit did back in December 7, 1941, when the American fleet at Pearl Harbor was attacked, nearly 3,000 were killed, and hundreds, including my cousin, were permanently interred in the U.S.S. Arizona.
From those ashes a great nation awoke.
And so it today.
September 11’s terror campaign may have temporarily stunned the nation, but it didn’t paralyze. That star spangled banner is waving like never before, and national pride is at an all-time high.
Only now are we beginning to understand what a nation of heroes we truly are, and how much so many gave on Sept. 11. Whether we helped plow through the rubble, reported to work or school in a timely fashion or stayed behind with a wheelchair-bound friend in the twin towers, we each fought our way through arguably our nation’s toughest hours, in heroic fashion.
At first we were a nation united in shock and disbelief, emotions that quickly grew to anger and distrust – spawning grounds for the hatred and discrimination that produced this catastrophe.
The malignancy that is terrorism must be removed before it claims its next victim. Anything less would doom future generations across the globe to lifetimes in fear, and fates much worse than Sept. 11.
The real challenge before us is to do so, while defending the Constitution and still celebrating the diversity and opportunity that attracted so many of our forefathers to these shores. Unless we protect the Constitution and the freedoms is guarantees, the next generation of terrorists may well come from within our borders, instead of abroad.
Anything less would be un-American, and hardly the kind of epitaph the more than 7,000 innocent victims deserve.