The last 10 years have been hard on the United States. From the tragendy of 9/11 forward, good news has sometimes been in short supply. Instead, we have seen an abundance of conflict, an economy stumbling, and often bitter political debates over the future of our society and our country as a whole. At the same time, we have also rediscovered who our true friends are around the world, along with reminding ourselves of our innate strength and determination to help others in need, from Haiti to Japan and the African continent, as well as our fellow citizens from the Gulf oil spill to nature’s devastation in the South.
The elimination of a major threat to the lives and safety of peoples in all corners of the globe by removing Osama Bin Laden was more than a brilliant military operation by the bravest of Americans. It was an affirmation of our nation’s persistent vision and enduring reality that we are an exceptional people, not without our faults, but ultimately good, compassionate, and fearless in standing up for our values, not matter how often we fall or are pushed down.
Pundits at home and abroad have long speculated that the end of the American age has arrived; that the American dream has faded and that new world powers and a new world order are on the rise. Many have predicted dire consequences for our nation’s future in the face of exploding budget deficits and a staggering debt burden. Critics have asserted that we lack the discipline, the peseverance, and the maturity to overcome our most serious challenges. And yet ……for ten years and longer we have pursued global terrorists, together with our allies and friends. We never tired. We never gave up. We just scored a major success.
I have never been prepared to write the United States off. Since our 18th century fight for independence in the face of overwhelming odds, and through countless struggles since, including a bloody civil war, we have always prevaled. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” is after all an American saying. Our country continues to carry the hopes and dreams of the world, not because Americans are a special people, but because special people are Americans. From every corner of the globe, the American melting pot has created the most diverse nation on earth, united by the pride of making ourselves and calling ourselves Americans. So as long as there is a place called earth there will be a special and important place on this planet called the United States of America.