Published November 05, 2009
Editor's note: Attorney and Fox News contributor Peter Johnson, Jr. delivered this speech on Thursday, November 5 on board the USS New York in New York City.
The U.S.S. New York may be forged of terror tested American steel but it will be forever guided by the hopes, dreams and aspirations of two thousand nine hundred and seventy six souls. Their voices are silenced on this chilly morning on the Hudson river but their hold on us is undeniable.
And we are bound and pledged to all of them -- those who died on September 11, 2001 -- and those soldiers, sailors and marines who are willing to die for our freedom."
I'm a proud American like you. Each step on this mighty deck evokes almost a century of my family's history. My grandfather and father worked as longshoremen on this ship's dock loading supplies for two world wars.I worked in the World Trade Center as an idealistic young aide to a New York governor. Later I walked the ruins of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. And I'm reminded that my father rode a troop carrier like this one to a place called Iwo Jima in World war two more than sixty years ago. -- All seemingly unconnected events for three generations of Americans which become connected on this day.
From this height you used to be able to see the Twin Towers and be mesmerized by the happy memories of weddings at Windows on the World and summer evenings in the plaza. Now the view is clouded by the images of Father Mychal Judge, martyr chaplain, Captain Patty Brown, hero of Vietnam and the fireground, young lions like Michael Boyle and Jonathan Ielpi -- all New York's bravest -- and of fellow New Yorkers who never returned home from work.
Yes America has cried. And it will again. But no tears today. From yesterday's pain there is pride. From sad sacrifice there is now certain strength and unshakeable resolve.
Walt Whitman exclaimed about this city, "City of Ships, City of the World, City of the Sea, City of tall facades of marble and iron. Proud Passionate city," he wrote. "Spring up, O city! Not for peace alone but be indeed yourself, warlike."
We are a city and a nation which hates war but necessarily wins wars of necessity. Right now we exult in our resilience and our renewal -- a ship called NewYork and a people recast from a shared crucible. At a time when we seek to ensure that our government's commitment to the safety of the men and women of this ship -- and to every platoon from Baghdad to Kabul -- is as steadfast as our servicemen's recognition of our own grief and their promise to avenge it even at the price of their own lives. The motto of this ship "Never Forget"applies equally to the victims of 9/11 as to its stewards. New York state's motto is "excelsior"-- onwards and upwards.The proof is in the steel.
Peter Johnson, Jr. is a New York attorney and Fox News contributor.