|“No day was ever more clouded than the present.” George Washington, 1786. Though dust and debris clouded Sept. 11, this statement was uttered in an even darker time when the United States of America teetered between anarchy and tyranny after the Revolutionary war and prior to drafting the Constitution of the United States. On Sept. 11 our Constitution provided the strong framework to immediately respond to crisis. What would we have done without it?
“We cannot hallow this ground, the brave… living and dead… have consecrated it” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863. After the devastation at Gettysburg during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was given the daunting task of dedicating the Gettysburg battlefield where, four months earlier, approximately 46,000 casualties had been suffered by fellow Americans. On Sept. 11 we understood a degree of how President Lincoln felt, though about ten times as many were lost in Gettysburg as Sept. 11, 2001.
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land…” The Liberty Bell, 1775, from Leviticus 25:10. One of the most important liberties proclaimed by the Founding Fathers was the liberty of religious worship; Founders recognized that religion provided strength to their homes and nation. We found the same strength Sept. 11, ought we not to draw on it daily?
“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Nathan Hale, 1776. (The word “lose” in the original quote was changed to “give” for this recording.) In the Revolutionary War, Nathan Hale uttered these final words as he was shamefully hung as a spy; his love for America has since inspired millions. We do not always know the good we do when we commit to what we feel is right.
“Let’s roll.” Todd Beamer, 2001. Representative of the patriots who fought the hijackers and all who risked their own lives to save others. Sept. 11, 2001 heroism was as great as any in history. The most significant way to honor all heroes is to uphold the things they were willing to die for and to collectively build a living monument of kindness and strength in their name.
“Never give up.” “God Bless America.” “Take my hand.” “I’ll help you.” “We’ll make it.” All responses of Americans as they reached out, 2001. Sept. 11 unleashed a noble part of America, and the world, that should never be lost. We have seen the power of these unselfish expressions. Shall we not continue?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Declaration of Independence, 1776. The founding fathers believed that every person was important and deserved protection regardless of birth or rank. Through that belief they created a land whose opportunities surpassed any in the history of the world, and where law applied equally to all.
“…As for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry, 1775. In supporting US independence, Patrick Henry clearly expressed the value of freedom. We all experienced fear on Sept. 11, 2001, wondering just how extensive the terrorism would be. There are many in the world who currently live their entire lives in that kind of fear because their country does not have a Bill of Rights. We should not take our Bill of Rights too lightly, nor surrender it too easily.
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Benjamin Franklin. Perhaps the greatest threat to any country is from within. While setbacks can come from without, if a country has character within, they will always find the strength to overcome.
“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863. Lincoln’s words are no less applicable today. We never know when we will be called to defend freedom; but freedom must always be defended. “Some have fought with a sword, some defend with a pen. But the fight for freedom never ends.”
“..with liberty and justice for all.” Pledge of Allegiance. First recited 1892, Official Congressional acceptance, 1954. The concept of “liberty and justice for all” provided an atmosphere where creativity could flourish. Scholars agree that because of patent protection within the Constitution of the United States, more has been technologically accomplished world-wide in 200 years than the previous 6,000, propelling us from horse and buggy to the space age. The Constitution is as important now as when it was drafted.
“United we stand, divided we fall; shall we not shape history to our favor?” Echoed in support of the Declaration of Independence, 1776. In 1776 loyal patriots were a small percent of the United States population, perhaps as little as 3-5%. Yet, united they created the greatest government in history. Should we not take courage from their example and realize that we, too, have the ability to shape history and that out of small things can proceed that which is great?
“America is great because she is good. If she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” Unknown historical figure. A timeless utterance, applicable to any people, any time, and any noble country.
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