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I'm the author of The Liberty Pole. I dabble a bit in blogging and have a fascination with early American history (late 18th century) as well as WWII. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Act Worthy of Yourselves: The American Spirit

“Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”
                                                  Dr. Joseph Warren, 1775

Photo via the Warren Tavern's
Facebook page
On Tuesday (the day after the attack on Boston) The Warren Tavern posted a Facebook message with a beautiful photo of the American flag and the Bunker Hill Monument behind it along with the statement "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and families impacted by yesterday's tragedy. Thank you to the first responders and all others who were helping out" and quoted part of Dr. Warren's address that he made in 1775 in the Old South Meeting House on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre. It was a beautiful addition to the many statements made across the internet to let Boston know that they are in everyone's thoughts and prayers during such a horrific time. 

The quote that they used is a personal favorite of mine. It has had many deep meanings in my own life, but has taken on even more after Monday's cowardly attacks. Like all Americans, I'm still reeling from this, trying to put together thoughts and understand what all it truly means. While the 
casualty-rate is nowhere near as high, there is still that same feeling of pain that accompanied 9/11. We don't yet know what kind of terrorism this is, but I'd wager that there is no question in anyone's mind - even before the government officially called it so - that this is terrorism. I'm certainly no expert, but I do understand that the explosives found to have been used are at least very similar to those used against American soldiers in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. With that understanding comes the knowledge that we may have just been hit at home again in a foreign-based terrorist attack. We have been insurmountably blessed that in the nearly twelve years that have followed 9/11 that we have seen relatively few attacks from our enemies in such a way (some that were not labeled as an act of terror), but in times like these we remember, much as Dr. Warren said 238 years ago, our enemies are numerous and powerful. 

Image via The Washington Post
 They attack as only cowards can: preying on innocent people that have never wronged them, spreading their dark terror across the globe. Their delusions push them forward in actions that only a lunatic could justify, and for what? What does it gain them to maim us, to injure us, or to even kill us?   President Bush said, on the eve of 9/11, "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining." I believe this still holds true. Those that wish to oppress others will try to snuff out freedom  in any way they can. 

Image via the Boston Globe
These people hide in shadow, some more willing than others to give their own lives for their insane cause, but many more willing to simply take life. These were runners, athletes, spectators, Bostonians, Americans. What could Martin Richard have possibly done in his eight years of life that would warrant such a terrible death? What did Krystle Campbell do? Or the many, many others that will never be the same? What was their terrible crime that drove these cowards to attack them? There was nothing. They were innocent.

There is a darkness that may threaten and a pain that will linger and it should linger. We should not forget, as those that were on the front lines of this horrific event cannot forget. 

Even in the darkness there are beams of light. If Joseph Warren ever called for Americans to act worthy of themselves, he would have seen it on Monday. I've never personally been out to the marathon (I tend to stay away from running if I can help it), but after watching a video I got a better idea of how the crowd control was set up, therefore a better idea of what happened. It looks like the bomb went off from right in front of the barricades with the people pressed up on the barricades themselves. When the blasts went off - with the understanding that most Americans have nowadays that there could be more to follow - fellow runners, medics, police officers, and others on the scene flooded to help. They tore away obstacles and saved lives. They put aside their own safety to help others. They helped people into wheel chairs when the ambulances couldn't get in and they carried people out. 

Image via ABC News

We are in danger, there is no question on this. We face a threat that we cannot always see or touch, often forgetting the magnitude, but it's there. We see it every time it strikes, but no matter the evil they cannot win because Americans are strong and we're brave and we're giving. We are a unique group of people, resilient, and a beacon of hope. We will live free because we know how to fight for it. The fighting may not always come in the form of donning a military uniform and shipping out over seas - though to those men and women that protect us we are eternally grateful - but in the form of those that give selflessly of everything they have here at home. When those bombs went off, those people that jumped the barriers couldn't have been thinking of themselves. Their actions, and those of the men and women that have stood up against terror every day that we face it, show that America is not afraid and we will not bow to  the to the disgusting cowards that won't dare face us openly. 

Boston, our prayers and thoughts are with you. You have shown what it meant to act worthy of yourselves and I think you've shown what can truly be called the American Spirit.