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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


In Remembrance:

Remembrance Ceremony

Central Hall, Hillsdale College

September 11, 2007

In times of trials and tribulations, Americans often turn to God. Americans always have been, after all, a religious people. George Washington believed the American Revolution and the ensuing experiment in self government were guided by the hand of Providence, because he thought God on the side of freedom. Abraham Lincoln, in his Second Inaugural Address—a work no less theological and philosophic than political and poetic—interpreted the horrors of the Civil War as divine retribution for the sin of slavery.

Americans of old understood what is right. They believed God would shine His blessings on the nation who lived rightly. And they feared Him when they strayed. They understood that God is good, that God favors freedom over tyranny, justice over injustice. They understood that the principles of America are good — that it is the first country in human history founded on the "laws of nature and of nature's God" — and that their patriotic duty to their country is connected to their duty to God.

Today we feel less comfortable speaking this way. Many Americans have succumbed to modern ideas that blur, if not erase, the distinctions between right and wrong, justice and injustice, good and evil. These ideas have come to dominate our halls of worship, as they dominate our legislative halls and halls of education. Many of our churches, schools, and legislatures today fail to teach patriotism because they no longer know what is right, and they are no longer confident that America is right.

But on 9-11, six years ago, we saw the face of evil up close. Evil was thrust upon us. If anything good is to come from those terrible events, we must mark them as reminders of the principles of right and the duties of citizenship. God and our Constitution demand it. Our slain countrymen—all 2,973 of them who perished that day—deserve it.

One way to help us remember these things is to recall the sermons delivered during the American Founding. These sermons represent a religion that knew right from wrong, as clearly as it knew day from night, because it understood that the principles of right are made available to man by divine revelation. Consider, for example, this Revolutionary sermon by Samuel Davies:

Nothing can be more agreeable to the God of Peace than to see universal harmony and benevolence prevail among His creatures. "Follow peace with all men," is one of the principal precepts of our holy religion. And the great Prince of Peace has solemnly pronounced, "Blessed are the peacemakers."

But when, in this corrupt, disordered state of things, where the lusts of men are perpetually embroiling the world with wars and fighting and throwing all into confusion; when ambition and avarice would rob us of our property, for which we have toiled and on which we subsist; when they would enslave the freeborn mind and compel us meanly to cringe to usurpation and arbitrary power; when they would tear from our eager grasp the most valuable blessing of Heaven, [our freedom of conscience]; when they invade our country, formerly the region of tranquility, ravage our frontiers, butcher our fellow subjects, or confine them in a barbarous captivity in the dens of savages; when our earthly all is ready to be seized by rapacious hands, and even our eternal all is in danger by the loss of our religion; when this is the case, what then is the will of God?

Must peace then be maintained? No. In such a time even the God of Peace proclaims by His providence, "To arms!" Then the sword is, as it were, consecrated to God; and the art of war becomes a part of our religion. Then happy is he that shall reward our enemies, as they have served us. Blessed is the brave soldier; blessed is the defender of his country and the destroyer of its enemies.

...Some [Americans] lie dead, mangled with savage wounds, consumed to ashes with outrageous flames, or torn and devoured by the beasts of the wilderness, while their bones lie whitening in the sun and serve as tragic memorials of the fatal spot where they fell. Others have been dragged away captives and made the slaves of imperious and cruel savages. Others have made their escape and live to lament their butchered or captivated friends and relations. Our frontiers have been drenched with the blood of our fellow subjects.

Will this violence cease without a vigorous and timely resistance from us? No. We have no method left but to repel force with force, and to give them blood to drink in their turn who have drunk ours...

...The cause in which these brave men, and our army in general, are engaged is not so much their own as ours. Divine Providence considers them not so much in their private, personal character as in their public character as the representatives and guardians of their country; and, therefore, they will stand or fall, not so much according to their own personal character as according to the public character of the people whose cause they have undertaken. Be it known to you, then, their success depends upon us even more than upon themselves.

Our enemies who attacked us on 9-11 believe their political cause — the cause of Islamic tyranny — is good. We believe the cause of free society, religious liberty, and constitutional government is good. Both sides believe God to be on their side. But this cannot be. The truth proclaims equal rights for all men, government by consent, and justice under the rule of law. Any religion that contradicts these simple dictates of morality — any religion that denies the rights of all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with which we are endowed by our Creator — is untrue, and must be opposed the forces of good, or it will fester us, against us, and among us.

If the enemies of freedom wish to discuss these things, we will demonstrate why their position is unreasonable, unjust, and evil. But if our enemies refuse to talk, if they refuse to heed the counsels of reason, and choose instead to make war, we will make sure that war is what they get.

In these terrible times we face today, let us follow the Abraham of America, our great Civil War President, having faith that "right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty.


What the BBC Is Telling Our Kids

The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al-Qaeda - who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks.

In the past, al-Qaeda leaders have declared a holy war - called a jihad - against the US. As part of this jihad, al-Qaeda members believe attacking US targets is something they should do.

When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave.


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