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|Reclaiming the Spirit of September 12||09/11/2003|
September 2001: After suffering the most shocking and devastating terrorist attacks on the U.S. mainland America became a changed nation. Heroic accounts of rescue workers poured in daily. Inspirational stories of ordinary citizens engaged in extraordinary acts of compassion for their fellow countrymen emerged across the land. Virtually every country in the free world expressed their sympathy and support for the international victims of the terrible assault. Only a handful of Muslim nations of the Middle East and Southeast Asia celebrated the wound inflicted upon "the Great Satan."
Members of congress, both Democrats and Republicans alike, stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the steps of the Capitol, singing "God Bless America." Leaders of the House and Senate came together and passed a resolution that "thanks those foreign leaders and individuals who have expressed solidarity with the United States" and "asks them to continue to stand with the United States in the war against international terrorism." The same resolution committed to support "increased resources in the war to eradicate terrorism" and "the determination of the President...to bring to justice and punish the perpetrators of these attacks as well as their sponsors."
In the days following the attacks, America woke up to the evil that exists -- the face of terror that seeks to kill innocent people, steal peace and prosperity, and destroy the very way of life that freedom has given us. We sensed that something greater than mankind was at work, and we resolved to be on the right side of the struggle. We discovered compassion for our neighbors that we never knew existed. And we realized that our trivial disagreements and petty arguments amounted to nothing in the overall concerns of our world.
Fast-forward two years later to September 2003: Two murderous regimes have fallen. For millions of oppressed people, the opportunity to live in a free society has arrived. The two architects of these regimes -- Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden -- remain at large, but as is the case with all fugitives, their days are numbered. Other countries are rooting out, sometimes by force, the cancerous cells of terror attempting to metastasize within their borders. Only a few rogue nations and groups continue to threaten the lives of Americans and the peace of the world.
Yet inside our own country, a strange thing is happening. The court's greatest recent victory was to remove the Ten Commandments from a public place. Hollywood's brightest stars call America "a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you" and tell prospective coalition members, "We [America] can't beat anyone anymore." Presidential hopefuls unashamedly tell the American people that their Commander-In-Chief lied to them in order to bring war upon an undeserving dictatorship. Reputable universities offer "peace studies" with course titles such as "An Empire If You Can Keep It: U.S. Foreign Policy in a New World." And greedy lawyers pursue lawsuits against our top airlines, the New York Port Authority and others who suffered great losses in the attacks.
Somewhere we lost the spirit of America -- the spirit of post 9/11 that compelled us to put the needs of others above our own; the spirit that taught us that evil must be recognized; the spirit that convinced us we were the good guys; that spirit that assured us we would win the war on terror.
Two years ago we came together. But too many Americans have chosen the path of cynicism, selfishness and ignorance. Once again, America must wake up to the truths that seemed so clear on September 12, 2001. People matter most. Evil exists and must be overcome. Partisanship must be lost in purpose based on unshakable principles. We must stand together, or we will fall apart. Deadly attacks on freedom must always deepen our resolve to pay whatever price necessary to protect it. Selfishness must be minimized by the demand for necessary sacrifices. Most of all, we must continue to ask God to bless America in order for our people to live in peace and security. We need wisdom that comes only from above and love that conquers all.