Last month, my wife, my daughter, and I traveled, with some close friends, to New York City. What a great trip. New York is a fabulous city. It is one of our favorite places to visit. So much to see, so much to experience, so much to eat!
Although we have been to many of the more popular spots in the city, this trip we were able to visit a place we had never been to before – the National 9/11 Memorial Museum. It was well worth the visit. It is moving. As I walked through the museum, reading the accounts of that day, watching and re-watching video and news broadcasts of that day, and most importantly remembering the heroism of that day, I experienced three distinct emotions – anger, sorrow, and pride.
I became angry because it was such a cowardly act. Honestly, those guys were cowards. For no reason other than a blinding hatred of western culture, they slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians, the vast majority of whom were Americans. They faced none of their victims; they looked none of them in the eye as they took their lives. Neither they nor their family members were endangered by their victims. Cowards, one and all!
I became sorrowful for the 2,977 innocent men and women whose lives were lost, and the countless others who lives were irreparably harmed that day. Men and women of varied economic statures, social statures, faiths, and ethnicities, had their lives take from them. All of whom were husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters to someone. To someone who will never see them again. To someone who will never experience them as they did before. To someone who will never touch them again.
But I was also proud. I was proud as I remembered the moments, hours, and days subsequent to the disaster. I remembered the scenes and accounts of first responders entering the towers to bring people to safety. The civilian volunteers who so graciously gave what they could to the rescue and recovery efforts. Our elected officials in Washington, DC, if only for a brief few days, set aside partisan politics, and came together. They even coalesced on the steps of the Capitol and sang “God Bless America.”
I was also proud as I stepped out of the museum, and looked in awe at the Freedom Tower. It rises so high into the sky. Set off as it is from many of the other buildings, I could not help but think that it represents a huge “middle finger” to anyone who hates America, and wants to see our political and economic system destroyed. It symbolically shouts, “You tried, but you failed! You can try again, but you’ll fail again!”
It’s true. They will fail. That’s because we are the best. We are the finest. We are the greatest. America is, for all of its faults, the greatest country on earth. Despite our differences, we are a nation of exceptional, generous, gracious, giving, and forgiving people.
Some citizenry will agree with me, some will disagree. That’s fine. That’s part of what makes America great – our freedom to differ, to disagree, even vehemently, with each other and our government.
Let freedom ring this Fourth of July.