Ten years ago something unthinkable happened for those of us born after World War II; an enemy attacked on U.S. soil. We’ve become accustomed to the concept of imperviousness within our borders; it was both stunning and terrifying.  The World War II generation experienced Pearl Harbor and were called to prepare for invasions by the Japanese and Germans; however those born after 1945 felt invincible.

The objective of terrorism is to achieve precisely what 911 accomplished, yet terrorists cannot even begin to imagine the resolve of Americans; you might frighten us, you might cause widespread grief, but we will gather ourselves together, regardless of religion, race, creed or political leaning and no force on earth can pull us apart. The terrorists need to read the poem “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus that adorns the Status of Liberty to begin to understand what makes America special:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shores.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

We are a land with differences so great that outsiders cannot grasp how we can possibly be unified. How can a nation seemingly so at odds on a daily basis ever be as one? It is this magical mix that makes America so strong. What holds us together is so much more powerful than that which divides us. America the melting-pot is a paradox of different cultures with dissimilar values, languages and beliefs that crossed the golden door to be part of a greater society of truly free people.

Never has there been another culture built upon the principle of individual rights superior to all government authority. Never has there been a nation of people only limited by their will to succeed. The bond of truly free people is of such strength that no conflict, no crisis nor evil force can ever breach that bond. Attack a single American and you attack us all. Try to divide us and you will only serve to diminish our differences and draw us together.

On this day when we remember those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania, it may be difficult to offer any sympathy to the cultures that bred the wickedness exhibited on 911. Those of us who have never known what it is like to live in a country where freedom is a bizarre concept can never hope to imagine what is like for these people. Is this an excuse? Of course not. Only evil minds can conceive of a plot to take the lives of thousands. It is those who live in these repressive societies that are corrupted by evil minds that use the most extreme reaches of religion to justify their actions.

Terrorism as we experienced first-hand on 911 is an act of jealousness. Though they will never admit it, the terrorists hate us because we are free. It’s the haves and have-not’s scenario we are all too familiar with. As the model for the rest of the world, we and other western cultures are targeted because we have so much, be it money, natural resources or the ultimate prize, freedom. While they will attack European societies, in the end it is America, the shining city on a hill, that breeds their most ardent hatred.

While American’s have shed blood for every culture in the world, we are only seen for what we have that they do not. It is our support for a democracy in the Middle-East when they feel they are denied their rightful place in the world. It is not a system of belief we can mollify or a circumstance we should feel responsible for. America has always stood for freedom and democracy and we always will, but we will never choose anyone’s beliefs or your rights over those of another. Come to us and we will help. We will always work to help societies become freer, help you feed your people and stand up against evil; however we cannot take on the entire world’s problems. America is not an endless pot of resources, our military bleeds as any other and our people have problems of our own.

Be our friend and we shall be at your side. Be our ally and we shall come to your aid. Be our enemy and you shall learn as the Japanese learned after attacking Pearl Harbor that you have awoken a sleeping giant who shall gather the combined strength and resources of the greatest culture in man’s history.

Today we reflect upon the darkest day in our history; a short 10 years ago. While we pay special reverence today, it is always in our mind and hearts; we carry it with us every day, as will our children and our children’s children. We shall never forget. Thank you to those whose lives were lost on 911, you shall forever be in our hearts and minds. You reminded us all that as we enjoy the blessings of freedom we must also be keenly aware that there is an evil that seeks to destroy the miracle of America.  While they will never succeed we must remain vigilant.  Today is not a day for political commentary or concern over the direction of the country, but rather a time to remember those who helped teach us on September 11th, 2001 that our differences, as big as they may seem tomorrow, are truly small.  We are Americans.

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