“Are you guys ready? Ok, let’s roll!”
Todd Beamer from Flint, MI
Tom Burnett from Bloomington, MN
Mark Bingham from Los Gatos, CA
Jeremy Glick from Saddle River, NJ
They led the revolt on United 93, saving countless lives. Even facing their own deaths, they demanded to be in control of their own destiny. They remained uniquely American till the very end.
American. What does it mean?
At its core, America is and remains a crazy, raucous experiment in freedom and self-governance. In the moments that count, we come together. In all other moments, we argue, fight, and state our opinions like an Italian family on pasta night. We do that because we can. When the day comes that disagreeing is unacceptable, nay, illegal we will have lost what it means to be American.
The people that came to this country were not leaving Europe because they were doing well. My own family can testify to that fact. They came because they were bold, aggressive, endlessly hopeful, and tremendous risk-takers. They knew they would never go back. But, for the chance at changing their future for the better, they were willing to risk everything. They wanted a stake in their destiny and were no longer satisfied with accepting a future they were born into.
In our zeal to spread this incredible, aspirational freedom, we have believed (foolishly) that we can incubate it in locations where it has never existed. But the truth is, we have not had much luck transforming other nation states into mini-Americas. We are unique, rare, and tough to replicate. As one senator said today, “We keep thinking that if we remove a leader, that Thomas Jefferson will take over next.” He won’t. He was one of a kind—for all his foibles.
No matter our genetic origins, we all share American DNA. We disagree. We challenge. We state what we think. We don’t cower to a king, a dictator, or a despot. We vote with our wallets, our beliefs, and even where we choose to live and raise our children. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it works better than any other place on earth. When we forget that, we risk losing everything.
America is an idea. A good idea–nay, a great idea. All men and women are created equal. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Remember that you are blessed by the simple fact of where you live. Blessed beyond reason.