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From the Kitchen Table


In Remembrance of . . .

by Peg Luksik
 

In Remembrance of ….

The moment will be etched forever in the memories of every American who saw
it. Americans were killed on American soil by a foreign enemy. Most of
those who died would never have been classified as combatants. They were
civilian men and women whose lives were taken simply because they were
Americans.

Obviously being an American meant something specific to those were willing
to die as long as they could kill anyone bearing that label in the process.
It wasn't just a group of people living within the geographic borders of
this nation. It was a label that conveyed something unique — and in this
case, hated.

So what does the label "American" mean?

It means openness. The people who call themselves Americans are black and
white and red and yellow. They have last names that sometimes begin with O'
and sometimes end in —ski. Some of them make the sign of the cross when
they pray and some of them wear a yamaka. The invitation to join the
experiment begun in 1776 is extended to all who desire to answer it. There
is no other litmus test.

It means opportunity. The people who call themselves Americans actually
believe that every person should be allowed to succeed if they work. There
is no caste system. American businesses are owned by both men and women, by
folks from every ethnic and racial category, and by believers in every
faith. This is a nation where the children of immigrants who came through
Ellis Island with nothing but the clothes on their backs are now successful
and prosperous.

It means generosity. By most accounts, the American people are considered
the most generous on earth. Each year, Americans give over $30 billion to
help their neighbors in other countries. In every disaster in a foreign
land, it is America who is usually first on the scene with rescue crews,
food, water, medical help, and supplies.

It means faith. Americans recognize that there is an authority higher than
the government. Our Declaration begins by proclaiming that each of us is
endowed with rights by a Creator. Our Constitution guarantees religious
liberty. In our Pledge, we acknowledge that we are one nation under God. We
even declare "In God We Trust" on our money.

It means freedom. Whether we are talking about speech, assembly, the press,
religion, bearing arms, jury trials, the presumption of innocence, or due
process, Americans believe that the rights of the individual trump the power
of the government. And every American has those rights, not just some
favored few.

We haven't always perfectly lived out our label, but our history has been a
movement towards it.

For some, a nation that has proven that a society based on openness and
opportunity and generosity and faith and freedom can succeed is anathema and
must be destroyed. At any cost and by any means. On September 11, 2001,
they attempted to begin that destruction.

They failed. America was not destroyed. And as long as we remain true to
the ideals that created the label America those intent on our destruction
will continue to fail.

So if we truly want to honor and remember those who died because they were
Americans, let us resolve to remain committed to the ideals that made
America a beacon of hope for the past 200 years.


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