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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Patriot Day and being American

Eleven years ago today, 19 cowardly Islamists hijacked four commercial airliners full of innocent men, women and children and crashed them into the world trade center towers, the pentagon, and what was supposed to be the capitol building, culminating in the most devastating attack by a foreign enemy on US Soil and the first since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  Every time I think about it, especially the heroics of the passengers that fought back against the terrorists, it stirs strong emotions within me.

Patriot Day, or more commonly known as 9/11, holds a deeper significance to me than any day we have that celebrates freedom and sacrifice.  One reason is that I was alive when this happened and remember exactly where I was when I heard the awful news.  And another big reason is that my mother was born the day before 9/11 on the 10th.  I was born the day after, the 12th, creating a somewhat symbolic bookend to the terrible events that transpired that day.  On the before side, we have the generation that fought against the evils of the world and watched over us in the 20th century.  On the after side, we have the next generation taking up the standard to fight against Islamic extremists and maintaining the precious safety and freedom our country enjoys to this day.  Neither of us have been in the service, but both of us have a deep respect for those who do and recognize what it means to be American.

This past decade, it's been highly fashionable for American citizens to bash America or hold that this country is an evil empire.  We exploit poor third world countries.  We kill innocent people for oil.  We oppress our own citizenry.  They even brazenly claim that when it comes to the 9/11 attacks, "we had it coming" because somehow we were so evil that it justified the slaughter of over 3,000 innocent lives.  While all of those claims can be debunked and debated, that's not for this article.  Needless to say, the people that believe America is an evil empire should have their moral compass re-calibrated.  This isn't to say America is completely blameless or innocent.  No nation ever is.  Every nation has moments in their past which are dark or evil.  Yet, instead of looking at an unrealistic definition of good by claiming any country that has committed evil can never be good, we should instead judge by what good the country has done in the world.

And when it comes to doing good in the world, no country has done more than America, particularly in the 20th century.  When the Axis powers arose in World War II, it was America who fought a war on two fronts to fight against tyranny.  It was America who recognized the threat and evil of Communism and was the world's sole defender of liberty and freedom against it.  When humanitarian crises happen around the globe, the world looks to America for aid and leadership.  America has done more to fight against hunger, poverty, and oppression than any other nation on this planet.  It has been our country's leadership role in the world that has not only helped make the world a better place, but has given people around the globe hope.  No other country has sacrificed more of its citizens to better the lives of another nation's citizens than America.  We are a country of ideas that harnesses the power of individual liberty and that power has enriched the lives of the entire world.

Many Americans do not really understand our uniqueness in the world.  Many believe that it's like how it is in America everywhere, but these other places are "nicer".   This is a misguided falsehood that comes as a result of freedom being so ubiquitous that many do not realize its value.  Yet, just ask an immigrant adult that has come to this country looking for opportunity and they'll tell you otherwise.  Ask a former Russian citizen.  America IS different and unique and a force for good.    

And on this day, a day where we were attacked not because we are evil, but attacked because we are the biggest threat to the extreme Islamists and their immoral, deplorable acts, it reminds me how fortunate I am to live in a country like this.   It reminds me that America is the best hope for the world and I am proud to be a part of it.