Published September 10, 2010
America is at our best when we are tested as a nation. Whether tests come from competition in the marketplace, the challenges of innovation and invention, the fight of war or the tragedy of terrorism, America will always prevail.
America's greatness does not come out of arrogance, superiority or the exercise of super power; it comes from our freedom, diversity, education, tolerance, charity, goodness and the rule of law.
September 11, 2010 marks the ninth anniversary of the most horrific terrorist attacks on our homeland in our history.
As we look back at what happened on that day, we have to ask ourselves, what do we have to show for our response and remembrance to the attacks on America?
Every time I go by Ground Zero in lower Manhattan and see that hole where the World Trade Center used to stand, I get a pit in my stomach. I cannot fathom why it has taken so long to rebuild that area with commerce and a fitting memorial to those who perished.
On that tragic September morning in 2001, I lost my nephew Senior New York State Court Officer Thomas Jurgens. Tommy was a first responder who died while rescuing people from the south tower of the Trade Center along with fellow NYS Court officer's Captain Harry Thompson and Senior Court Officer Mitch Wallace. Harry and Mitch died too. Tommy's remains were never found.
The only items of his that were recovered were his mangled badge and melted gun. He was just 26 years old and married only 3 months. He had his whole life before him.
The fact that we as a nation did not demand that Ground Zero rise again in record time is a missed opportunity in the kindest light. Until construction on the Freedom Tower is complete along with a proper and fitting memorial each day is a victory for those who harmed us and emboldens those who continue to find ways to destroy us. Yes, work is being done but why has it taken us so long?
We should be ashamed of ourselves collectively for not recognizing the importance of rebuilding Ground Zero sooner and restoring that hollowed place with the American Spirit our enemies so wanted to extinguish.
Americans can do anything we put our minds to. Look what we were able to accomplish decades ago that had a profound impact on how we felt about ourselves as Americans and how the world perceived us at a time of deep economic crisis.
During the Great Depression while America was brought to its knees economically did we give up? No! We rose up. We knew we needed to grow our nation back to prosperity. What better symbol of growth is there than building and putting people to work?
In 1930, ground was broken and construction begun on the world's tallest skyscraper. One year and 45 days thereafter and ahead of schedule the Empire State Building was completed.
Our nation swelled with pride at the achievement and it gave a suffering nation great hope for a better tomorrow by the accomplishment of erecting a record breaking super structure. But you see it was not just about the building. It was about the spirit of a nation and its people and the belief that America can overcome immense adversity and be better for it.
As we remember the events of 9/11/01, we should rededicate ourselves to renewing our national spirit of patriotism, ingenuity, perseverance, tolerance and accomplishment. While we face tough times today, these days pale in comparison to the challenges that came before us.
While I focused my attention on the attacks on New York in this piece, my thoughts and prayers are also with those in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and Arlington,Virginia who suffered greatly that day as well.
We must never forget, not just for the sake of remembrance but also for the sake of what it means to be an American and the very survival of our nation.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion.
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