“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1933
On a beautiful September morning a few years ago I listened as Katie Couric was signing off Today on NBC when suddenly her tone changed and she said, “We have breaking news …”
As I sat that day and on the days that followed as one of the saddest events of my lifetime unfolded on the screen, the words from “Apocalypse Now” kept a steady beat in my head.
“The horror. The horror.”
Almost 3,000 persons of many nationalities and faiths lost their lives that day. We mourn them still. Will the legacy be the loss or will it be the incalculable acts of bravery that day?
Bravery is not what we are seeing as each new report of threatened terrorism makes us tremble in fear. And makes the terrorists winners.
To date, 5,783 American souls have been lost in wars fought for what? Revenge? Protection?
There are other wars to be fought in this country, numerous wars against life-snuffing diseases, illiteracy, poverty, environmental disaster, bigotry, corruption, crime and so many more ailments which threaten quality of life and the very existence of our democracy.
Can we fight these wars if we are a bunch of lily-livered Chicken Littles who cower under the thumbs of a relatively few religious fanatics who would just as soon see us frightened as to see us dead?
Or, can't we honor the legacy of Todd Beamer or Mark Bingham or Rick Rescorla or Louis Arena or Salvatore Papasso or hundreds of others who sacrificed themselves that day for the safety of others? They knew they faced death.
The 5,783 Americans lost in war knew they faced death.
So, what will it be? The home of the brave or a nation brought down by fear itself?