Friday, January 07, 2005

Gut check America

This is a time for courage. We need to find the collective courage of a nation, and we need to rediscover our individual courage. Terrorism is effective only if people become terrified…if individuals cower, if a nation cowers. It is time for every American to refuse to be afraid. It is time for every American to have the courage to intervene, as did the passengers of Flight 93. It is time for Americans to find the courage to see our fight in Iraq to its necessary conclusion.

The high water mark of terrorism was achieved with the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, but the tide was turned back when the passengers of Flight 93 had the courage to fight back. They put terrorism is on the defensive. They were put on the defensive, not by Interpol. Not by the FBI. Not by the Pentagon, but by individual Americans who refused to cower. They will be kept on the defensive by Americans who refuse to quietly acquiesce to violence, and by Americans who from this point on, refuse to be afraid. And when appropriate, by Americans who are courageous and decisive in dire times, regardless of the odds.

Americans have often found this courage, but lately we have found it only in our uniformed services, our firefighters, our policemen, our Federal agents, and precious few others. But we have lost it in our individual selves. We are afraid in our cities, we are afraid in our neighborhoods, we are afraid of conflict.

Our affluence as individuals, and as a nation has made us soft. It has centered our focus to materialism, self-preservation, and individual isolationism. We have failed to help our neighbors being assaulted, because we were afraid. We have avoided testimony in court, because we are afraid. We have avoided military service, because we are afraid. We have lost our soul, because we are afraid.

The erosion of American national courage began with the final settling of the American West. At that time, entire families possessed courage. They had the courage to fight the elements, to fight the terrain, to fight against brave American natives. They found the courage to tame a wild country. They had the courage to pursue a dream of opportunity and freedom. Indeed, our national courage arrived with the discovery of, and early settlements on the continent. It continued to grow, fueled by the citizens in Boston, by the Declaration of Independence, by the American Revolution, by the fighting of the Civil War, and through the settling of the American West.

But that was the acme. Slowly we began to demand less courage of ourselves, and found others to do our bidding. A smaller and smaller percentage of our population required this bravery, this courage. It was no longer required of women and children, and fewer and fewer men were asked to find this courage. Certainly, there were generational spikes for WWI and WWII, but deferments and exemptions still did not demand this courage of the collective population. And by the time of the Vietnam War, these deferments and exemptions began to demand this courage of only a few of our citizens. We have become affluent. We have become soft.

Today, courage is expected only of those who have volunteered for dangerous occupations. It is time for us to become brave and courageous. It is time to find our inner toughness. It is time to do a “gut check.” It is time to discover what we are made of. It is time to rediscover that it takes courage to maintain our dreams of opportunity and freedom.

The heroes of Flight 93 showed us how to defeat terrorism. Fight back. We must fight not only as a nation, but also as individuals. We must be toughened by this tragedy. We must be reinforced by our anger at the terror and injustice these individuals bring into our lives. We must recognize that true “self-preservation,” at times, requires aggressive and dangerous, and even perhaps, mortal action.

I continue to salute the heroes of Flight 93. I salute their courage; a courage equal to those that have earned medals in combat. I salute them for showing America that, as with Gettysburg, a scarred hillside in Pennsylvania is again the turning point in a desperate fight for true freedom, freedom from fear.


© Michael McBride 2005

3 comments:

Cheryl said...

Very good! Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

Gif said...

Welcome to Blogger, Major Mike!

Yes, we Americans need to learn how to be courageous in these times.

Terrorists feeds our fears...but we as Americans in the past have swallowed our fears and rose to the occasion.

The men and women of WWII has certainly shown what we as a people and a nation can do.

We can do that once again in the post 9/11 era.

We must or we will perish.

Cap'n Billy said...

Congratulations on your blog, and the good sense you show in your first post. Of course, given your background not surprising. I look forward to more good commentary from you.

Cap'n Billy
AO2 USN (1952-1955)
A1C USAF (1957-1961)
1st LT USAF (1961-1965)
Captain TWA (1965-1986)

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