After Three and 1/2 Years...

At some point last evening, it hit me. I think it has been creeping up on me for a while. But last night it hit me full square in the eyes and in my soul.

On that terrible Tuesday morning as I watched planes fly into our national treasures, and later when I found out one of my best friends had perished on American Airlines Flight 77, I began a process of questioning. Some of it was personal: how could good people have been senselessly taken away, and what am I supposed to do with my life? Some of it was more global: my country has always been a beacon of hope and freedom, how could anyone do this to her.

But fundamentally, I couldn't grasp why. Why did the terror attacks happen? Why were so many innocents killed? I've always been taught, and believe, that "things happen for a reason." But up until last night, I didn't consciously see a reason for the 9/11 attacks.

And then I got it. Between the words the President spoke and the emotional moment of the fallen Marine's mom hugging the newly freed Iraqi woman.... I finally got it. As Ronald Reagan taught me as I was growing up, America has a place in the destiny of mankind. And that destiny began 229 years ago with these words written by wise and perhaps prophetic men:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
I realized last evening that this is one of the greatest moments in history that I am living through. America has been called again by destiny to bring freedom and democracy to places around the world where such things seemed but a dream. It took the attacks of 9/11 to raise the slumbering giant out of its sleep and rise again to destiny's challenge. As President Bush said in his Inaugural Address, "After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire. "

Destiny had to deliver a stunning blow to America for us to step up to the plate once again. During the memorial service for my friend who was murdered on 9/11, his boss said "perhaps we will look back someday and realize these people died for a reason." They sure did.

The innocents on 9/11 did not die in vain, they died for a great purpose. America has been called by fate to free oppressed people throughout the world. My dear friend has played a crucial role in the changing of history. The light of America's beacon is shining once again. We will stand up to tyranny and oppression with force if necessary. Because the end result of democracy and liberty does justify any means necessary. Our Founding Fathers told us that in the Declaration of Independence. We have a solemn duty to uphold that charge.

President Bush's closing last night made me finally understand why we all lived through that horrible September day.
We live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition of slavery was only a dream -- until it was fulfilled. The liberation of Europe from fascism was only a dream -- until it was achieved. The fall of imperial communism was only a dream -- until, one day, it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable -- yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.
It took the tragedy of 9/11 for America to realize that our dream is not realized and our destiny must still be fulfilled. I can think of no better tribute to those that were lost on 9/11 than the ink-stained finger of an Iraqi voter, and more to come. The legacy of the 9/11 victims lives on in the free people of Afghanistan and Iraq. I finally stopped questioning last night.

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