During a news update on the construction progress of the 82-story building rising over the ruins of the World Trade Center this was said today by a union steamfitter, "We're going to build this great building...they (the terrorists) can stare at it from their deserts and caves."
I was moved by those words. They embody the spirit of laborers who are using their hands and their skills to erect the World Trade Center One building (also called the Freedom Tower). Those simple words do more, they embody the American spirit.
At a time of great divisiveness in this nation our values often appear to be occluded by the vitriolic rhetoric of political opponents. We hear pundits on both the right and left bemoaning the failings of our institutions, of the Congress, of public education, of the media; each side denouncing the other with venomous hostility.
There is much to bemoan. An estimated fifteen percent of Americans are without jobs; millions more are under-employed, homes are being repossessed at record rates, the national debt is at historic high levels leaving many to fear America will bankrupt itself.
I found myself suffering from this malaise of spirit for all the above reasons. Then I heard that distinctive New York dialect today manifesting what is the best in all of us who call ourselves Americans; you may kick us down, but we will stand up again, strengthened and motivated to overcome those who do us harm by our most intrinsic value, freedom.
Thank you steamfitter for speaking simple words that demonstrate the guts and grit that make up the American spirit.