Over the last couple weeks, millions of incoming freshmen students have stepped foot into university classrooms for the first time. It’s hard to imagine that just 13 years ago in the fall of 2001 these same young people were just beginning elementary school. For many of them, 9/11 is nothing more than a vague memory, yet it would be hard to overstate the impact this event had on their most formative years.
These children don’t remember a world without Osama Bin Laden or al-Qaeda – a world without the hateful threat of terrorism floating darkly over their heads. They grew up during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said goodbye as their older siblings went off to war. They came of age in a time of severe economic recession and watched as their fathers and mothers struggled to find work.
But despite having every reason to doubt our capabilities, to be wary of our enemies and to throw up their hands and settle for less, the youth of today are determined to build a strong, rich, independent America. They know that the American capacity for hard-work will keep this land prosperous. They know that the fierce independence that burns in our hearts will keep it free. And most importantly, they know and can rest assured that at its core America was founded on an idea that this is a land of liberty where every man can make for himself and his family the life they desire. One of our experts, Matthew Spalding, wrote:
Every nation derives meaning and purpose from some unifying quality—an ethnic character, a common religion, a shared history. The United States is different. America was founded at a particular time, by a particular people, on the basis of particular principles about man, liberty, and constitutional government.
Today the aptly named Freedom Tower in New York City stands 1,776 feet tall – a visual monument to our ability to pick ourselves up and struggle for even greater heights. Americans have shown over and over again that we will never give up and never surrender and certainly never cease striving to preserve our heritage of liberty. We truly are an exceptional country.
May God always bless America.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened May 21 to the public in New York City.