This article originally posted to Viewpointjournal.com on July 21, 2003:
On September 11, 2001, a clear and beautiful day, trying times returned to the shores of these United States. For as long as live I'll remember the fear of that day, watching in disbelief as thousands of innocent people were ruthlessly slaughtered and two of the best known buildings in the world, the Twin Towers, crumbled to dust in what seemed to be the blink of an eye.
As I watched the carnage unfold on television, one clear thought emerged from all the chaotic thoughts and questions spinning wildly in my brain; "this is war," I thought. "Someone has just declared war on us." On that day, the world changed for us all.
As desperate as things were in late 2001, they were equally desperate, if not more so, for Americans living in the trying times of 1776. It was an interesting irony in that, the year which saw the creation of the stirring document called the Declaration of Independence, was the same year the American cause seemed destined to fail. In that year, as in 2001, the people of America were tossed into an uncertain future whose only promise was the certainty of bloodshed.
By late 1776, George Washington's army was running for its life. His first engagement with the British on Long Island in August was a disaster. Washington's troops were flanked by the British and thousands were slaughtered in the ensuing route. For the next three months, Washington and his army would not stop running.
Washington had originally hoped to field an army capable of fighting a European-style war, but had quickly learned that he had no hope of doing this with an army made up of inexperienced "citizen soldiers." It was during this period, in mid-December, that Thomas Paine, who was then traveling with Washington's troops, wrote "The American Crisis," in which these words were written:
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.
Uttered over 225 years ago, these words again speak to us during this present crisis. The key figure today is George W. Bush, who is laboring to bear the intense burden of this war on terror. The President knows that he will be held directly responsible for any and every failure in this war, and should we fail to win this war, the cost will be unimaginable. Our enemy has pledged to destroy us, and they will do everything in their power to carry out this threat. They will follow us across the globe, attack every democratic government they find, and will, as always, target the weakest and most innocent among us.