I’m in a thoughtful mood today, remembering those who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and those who mourn them. The victims, of course, passengers and crew on those four airplanes, the men and women who perished in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but also the brave souls who did whatever they could to make an impossibly bad situation just a little better–like those aboard Flight 93, who physically overcame the terrorists, knowing they would still forfeit their own lives, to save others. Most likely, they saved the White House, too.
“Let’s roll!” These, my friends, are the words of heroes. And they invariably make me proud to be an American. Their equivalent in cowboy-speak would be, “Let’s get ‘er done!”
Then there are the first responders–many of whom died or were badly injured doing their jobs. As someone once said, you can recognize the heroes in any emergency–they’re the ones running toward the danger, not away from it.
All of them deserve our remembrance, our appreciation, and our greatest respect.
Most of all, they deserve what they fought and died for: an America that stands proud and unafraid and, of course, FREE. We must, as Winston Churchill so aptly said, “Move forward together.” To me “together” includes all Americans, Christians and Jews, Buddhists and atheists, and, yes, Muslims. It would be both dangerous and wrong to assume all followers of the Islamic faith are our enemies–the seeds of holocaust lie in such misplaced hatred and ignorance. Indeed, those things are our true foes.
As for the actual terrorists themselves–well, they LOSE. (I sometimes think, I confess, that the new World Trade Center should feature a giant middle finger, upraised, in honor of all who would attack our country, our citizens, and our way of life.)
You see, they wanted to change us. Bring us down. Break us.
How’s that workin’ for them?
We’re still flying flags, growing tomatoes in our backyards, enjoying countless ordinary but nonetheless precious liberties, hardwon by the brave and the free.
We’re still Americans.
We’re still strong, we’re still brave, and we’re still willing to roll up our sleeves and help out where needed. We are First Responders. Yes, we have problems as a nation and as a society; we always have, and we probably always will, because we live on Earth, not in heaven. (Yet.) What matters most, I think, is loving with our whole hearts, moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other, never giving up on ourselves, each other or our world in general.
I’m about to step down off my soapbox, folks, so bear with me for just another sentence or two.
The old slogan bears repeating, my friends: Freedom isn’t free. Real people, with hopes and heartbeats, loved ones and dreams, homes and cherished pets, car payments and mortgages, pay and have paid the price, and sometimes the ultimate one, to preserve the rights we too often take for granted, and the currency is blood, sweat, toil and tears.
So, if you will, please stand with me in a moment of reverent silence, with gratitude in our hearts, and simply remember.