In churches and synagogues, in cathedrals and mosques, in Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu temples, in Islamic centers and Jewish centers, wherever worship or contemplation takes place, the people of America have been offering their prayers for the thousands who were killed in the tragedy of September 11. As Americans from every walk of life, of every heritage gathered to mourn the victims of terrorism, so in Washington, D.C., President Bush and former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton came to the National Cathedral.
They have been joined by millions around the world -- common people and heads of state -- who with heads bowed or voices raised have also gathered to pray for those whose lives were lost and for their families.
Millions of candles have been lighted, illuminating the shadows with which terrorists have darkened humanity.
But prayers and candles are not enough.
In 1863 on the battlefield of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln observed that "It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us ... that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
We, too, must be so dedicated
Spirit of America: We have been tested, yes. But we have not been found wanting. The blood of the victims that was spilled across New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania has engendered the donation of thousands of pints of blood from those who wanted "to do something." Volunteers from across the United States -- including those from Northeast Ohio -- rushed to the scenes of disaster to do whatever was asked of them, from searching the rubble to comforting the grieving. The wealthy as well as those who could least afford it have sent money, blankets, toiletries and food to aid the rescuers and those who were made homeless by the catastrophe.
Yet among the stories of what is best about America and Americans have come disquieting accounts of the kind of hatred we abhor in the terrorists. Those who would harm or threaten Americans of Middle Eastern descent bring dishonor to our nation. Our flag stands for liberty and justice for all. Since the Revolutionary War, Americans have known that united we stand, divided we fall. Now is not the time for division.
On Friday, President Bush said, & quot;Our unity is a kinship of grief and a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. & quot;
However, we must not only prevail against our enemies. We must prevail for justice and for liberty. We must prevail so that the United States of America will remain a beacon of freedom for ourselves and all of Earth's oppressed.