WARNING: The Following Story is Not Satire
(2002-09-10) -- A couple of years ago, my young daughter and I stood on the top floor of one of the World Trade Center Towers. I had been atop the Sears Tower in Chicago before, but this was more impressive. Because from the top windows of one tower, you could look across to the other and get real perspective on where you were, and what the designers and builders had accomplished. It was like looking in a mirror.
I pointed and told my daughter, "We're on top of that."
At street level, there was still a huge tarp over the hole that some murderers had blasted in the side of one tower. And New York City bustled on. Only the tourists gawked and snapped photos.
New Yorkers from a hundred lands have become Americans.
Americans will not be deterred from their God-given right to pursue happiness. They will not be enslaved by fear. Liberty is presumed.
In 1776, John Adams wrote: "Freedom is a counterbalance for poverty, discord and war, and more." He also wrote that happiness is to be found only in virtue, and government’s task was "to stimulate virtue in its citizens."
Adam’s virtue drove him to seek liberty almost at any price. His sense of virtue compelled him to create a republic, rather than a true democracy, because a republic is "an empire of laws, not of men." He knew too well that men were "addicted to corruption and venality" -- drawn continually to "despotism and repression."
The virtue of which Adams spoke was steadfast, strong, and even aggressive. Though he feared the consequences of war on his family, friends and land, he knew history would judge him based on his actions in this moment.
The pursuit of liberty demanded (and Adam’s anticipated) that people must be armed and trained to defend themselves.
Against all odds...against the greatest military power the earth had ever known...Adams knew what he must do. His hopes for the outcome were clear, but he could not know for sure if taking a stand would lead to destruction and further enslavement, or to a land of liberty such as men had never seen.
He summed up his concerns for the future this way: "I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe."
And today, a year after the towers fell, I point my children to people like John Adams, and the ideas for which they were willing to risk everything.
I point and say: "We're on top of that."