In the National September 11 Memorial and Museum there is an artifact that, for me, speaks volumes about America’s past, present and future.
During the recovery phase at Ground Zero, a New York firefighter found an open Bible that had been fused into a piece of metal from the World Trade Center.
As Alexis de Tocqueville observed of 19th century Americans, “The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.”
How could it be otherwise? It is imbedded in our founding documents. “We hold these Truths to be self-evident …” served as a striking rebuttal both to the idea of the divine right of kings and the notion that our rights are dispensed by government.
Instead we have, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
From these founding principles arose the most benevolent superpower in history. It has been to the benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike across the globe that America was founded as, and remains, a country rooted in Judeo-Christian values and ideals.
From the Bible, in Daniel 3:18-27, we are told of the blind rage of King Nebuchadnezzar when he learned that three Hebrews named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not bow to the golden statue he had made in his image.
He ordered them to be thrown, bound tightly in all their clothing into a fiery furnace, to be executed.
To make sure the job was carried out as he had ordered Nebuchadnezzar came to the furnace and was shocked to see four men inside the flames walking around. In his astonishment he asked those with him if they had cast three men into the fire and they answered that truly only three men were cast into the fire. Nebuchadnezzar then exclaimed that he saw four, not three men walking around in the fire.
Stunned by what he was witnessing, the king came near to the mouth of the furnace and called to the Hebrews to come out of the fire. The miracle was unmistaken and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked out of the flames untouched by the fire. The Bible says not even one hair on their heads was harmed and their clothes were unaffected and there was not even the smell of smoke on them.
How is it that the Bible found by the firefighter was fused into the white hot metal of the World Trade Center and yet you can easily read the exposed, unburned page?
You may be wondering why I have focused on the religiosity of the found Bible.
We now know that the aircraft which crashed into the first tower of the World Trade Center was traveling at a speed of approximately 586 miles per hour—its fuel tanks filled with 10,000 gallons of jet fuel. Twelve weeks after the terrorist atrocity there was at least one fire still burning in the rubble making it the longest burning structural fire in history.
Logically, that Bible should have been incinerated, but it wasn’t. It belonged to someone who worked in the World Trade Center and is a testament to his/her faith—and to our nation’s faith.
By contrast, as Daniel Greenfield writes in Towers in Twilight, “For Islam, the game is strictly zero sum. If American civilization thrives, then their civilization is shadowed. If people are happy here, then their own happiness is marred. If there are two towers in New York City, then that takes away from the glory of their civilization. Islam is the bitter beggar forever looking to steal what it cannot have, worrying over the imaginary history of its own greatness and cursing the upstarts in the streets of a foreign city for taking what was rightfully theirs.” [Emphasis mine.]
Greenfield continues, “The American who shares his good fortune with the rest of the world cannot understand that there are some people who would rather steal than accept a gift, who would rather destroy than build and who would rather drown the world in darkness than accept someone else's light. With difficulty he might accept the existence of a small number of people who think this way, but the notion of a civilization built in this mold is too obscene an idea for him to accept.”
It has been widely reported that this year's remembrance of 9-11 is subdued. Thousands had attended the ceremony in New York in previous years, including last year's milestone 10th anniversary. About 1,000 gathered by Tuesday morning, making paper rubbings of their loved ones' names etched onto the Sept. 11 memorial.
Commuters rushed out of the subway and fewer police barricades were in place than in past years in the lower Manhattan neighborhood surrounding Ground Zero. On Tuesday, much of downtown Manhattan bustled like a regular weekday, except for clusters of police and emergency vehicles on the borders of the site.
This day evokes a torrent of tears in me. It is heartbreaking to realize that a nation that had been bathed in innocence in 2001 became, and still is, the target of the bitter beggars to which Mr. Greenfield so adroitly referred.