The darkness has lifted and morning has broken over New York harbor as ground zero memories become a World Trade Center future.
In ten years we have come to understand the power of faith and the pain of sacrifice more than we ever imagined. And just like the souls of the faithful departed who sought heavenly refuge as they flew from windows above the pool now filled in their memory, the fate of their brothers and sisters who rushed into the burning towers to save them was also sealed. Now sick first responders die day by day in a slow motion replay of nine eleven free fall. So above all on this day we honor the dead, the living and the sick, innocents and heroes all of every color, creed, station.
We aspire to the greatness of those we have loved and lost, who served and died here in New York City, at the Pentagon, Pennsylvania, and in Shanksville and in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the association we yearn requires deep daily obligation.
Remembering today is a beginning not an ending. Because duty and service is in the doing and the serving. And the measure of the strength of our union is not the iconic design of a memorial or a politician’s September 11th promise to tearful survivors. It’s how we respond to the challenges when this anniversary has passed.
Do we answer the call to national service? Do we embrace the romance of duty? Do we demand the necessity of honor? Ten years later we do and we have and we will.
Ten years from now in the shadow of the Lady statue we call Liberty, we must say to the friends we knew, and the friends we never had a chance to meet, that the call has been answered, the duty redeemed, the honor affirmed, the mission completed. That a crying sky that was once filled with ash and tears of desperation has seeded a new skyline of aspirations achieved, obligations met and debts paid.
As I visited the Tribute Center yesterday and I saw still grieving family members and courageous FEMA search and rescue task forces from around the country I thought of happy times at theTrade Center to balance the sadness. Dinner at Windows of the World and the Market. Long days and nights working in the Governor’s office.Ten years ago when I spoke at the funeral of my friend the Fire Chaplain Father Mychal Judge I relied on the optimistic letter he wrote my daughters a few weeks before his death as a prophecy of our resurgence and resilience.
“I sat and gazed at Lady Liberty—so majestic with her torch burning brightly and thought of the great feelings of joy and happiness and hope that my mother and father experienced when they saw her as their boat came into New York Harbor—it was their dream come true. 1921—oh so long ago. They had no idea of all the blessings and a few sorrows that lie ahead of them. They were so brave and had such faith and trust in God, that, that he brought them to these shores and that he would care for them.”
In New York City ten years later those we lost smile knowing that they are never forgotten as morning has broken in America.
Peter Johnson, Jr. is a Fox News Legal Analyst and attorney.