As the first rays of daylight break through the darkness on the East Coast, I wanted to be among the first to remember the brave patriots who gave their lives and, sometimes, their identities, so that we can continue to live in the freest land that history has ever known.
The red in our flag was intentionally chosen to represent the blood of men and women who chose to die for that liberty in wretched, desolate, and faraway places the names of which have largely been forgotten by the people who celebrate their memory.
In the course of today let us also remember that you do not have to wear a uniform to willingly die for America to protect the fragile democracy in which we live.
In another three months and twelve days, we will have another day of remembrance. On that day, over the skies of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the first battle of our current war was fought and won. But the victory, like so many others in our history, was washed in red, the blood of the patriots on board United Flight 93. Like so many heroes that day who willingly rushed forward with no regard for their own lives to save others, the men and women of Flight 93 engaged the enemy over the skies of America and won. But they paid the ultimate price for that victory.
We must never forget the 3,000 plus men, women, and children from countless nations whose lives and identities were brutally taken from us that brilliant September morn. These people died simply pursuing their dreams. They were Americans and foreign nationals from many countries around the world.
in Eagle Rock Reservation in New Jersey on the First Mountains of the Watchung Range, there is a solemn observation point, overlooking the vast expanse of urban and suburban life as it stretches toward the Atlantic Ocean.
In happier times, my family and I used to go there regularly to see Manhattan and the two towers at the tip of the island. I would point out to my then young children where I worked on the floors above 100 in Two World Trade. It was a joyful view.
Today, that view is scarred by the emptiness of the urban landscape; the gash created by the notable absence of the twin pillars to freedom and commerce.
There is a memorial to the events of 2011 on Eagle Rock these days; a poignant footnote to the lives taken that day. As one reads the names, many foreign sounding, and more than a few with Arabic names, you realize that the monsters of September 11, 2001, didn’t really care if you were an infidel or one of the chosen; they just wanted you dead. The people who died that day were Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Wiccan, young, and old. Then you come to the space for an unnamed child.
The reason that child had no name was because he or she never even got a chance to breathe the air of freedom in this great land. You see, she died in her mother’s body, so close to life and yet never to taste it.
May God Bless America!