I saw a beautiful thing last night. As the airplane lifted off the runway at JFK just after sunset I could see above the buildings of Brooklyn all the way to Manhattan. There in the distance was a tower of light in what has been for the last 10 years – a dark hole.
It was such a wonderful sight that I took the opportunity to bring it to the attention of my 220 passengers aboard the evening flight to Rome.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. All is well and I don’t mean to startle you with an announcement at such a low altitude however I want to share with you a beautiful sight. Looking out of the right side of the airplane in the distance, you’ll notice a large tower of light. That is the first, clearly visible sign of the new Freedom Tower under construction at Ground Zero. For 10 years we’ve missed our old landmark and tonight’s sighting is inspiring. We’ve all been through a lot and I hope it will inspire you as well. Enjoy the flight, get some sleep, and I’ll talk to you before landing in Italy tomorrow morning. Thank you for your attention”.
We really have been through a lot and it appears likely we’ll slog through much more. The point isn’t where we’ve been however – but that we’re still forging forward after such a devastating blow. Sure, we (and many of our global allies) are hurting right now as a result of some self inflicted economic wounds but in terms of coming back from the attacks of September 2001 – America, still the ‘home of the brave and land of the free’ can be very proud.
I salute both the Bush and Obama administrations for their efforts in this relentless battle between good and evil. President Bush wasn’t afraid to launch the Global War on Terror and fix the infrastructure that had left us exposed to harm. President Obama has doubled down on those worthy efforts and either brought to justice, crippled, or taken out many of the evil doers and masterminds in a truly global fashion; Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and most recently, Yemen.
Ten years ago we were licking our wounds. Today, we find ourselves fully engaged in confronting evil and injustice around the world while providing aid and comfort to whomever asks for it and wherever it is needed. And tonight …. I saw a beautiful symbol of America’s strength and resilience that only “we” can render powerless. Regrettably there is plenty of that type of activity fomenting within our ranks. For tonight however, let’s forget our ideological bickering and political posturing, and take pleasure in our collective triumphs.
Enjoy the trip, get some sleep and I’ll talk to you tomorrow morning before landing. Thanks for your attention”.