by Anna C. Little
The United States of America, also known as the “Land of the Free” and the “Home of the Brave”, is also home to many churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples representing almost every religion existing in the modern world. No other country has principled itself so strongly upon tolerance of religious differences, and the right to worship in the manner of one’s choosing.
We even offer asylum to foreign persons who are persecuted because of their faith or political beliefs, permitting them safe refuge within the United States where they can freely practice their religion and fully and openly express their beliefs. There can be no doubt that freedom of religion is respected here.
The attack in New York City on 9.11.01 was an act of war; neither by a nation nor any particular faith, but by a radical network of terrorists who claim “Islamic Jihad” as the moral basis for the destruction of the American way of life. As a phoenix rises from its ashes, Americans lifted each other from the dust of the collapsed buildings and helped each other walk to safety.
American flags were erected, hung and worn as clothing by everyone as proof that the United States of America remained strong. Donations of emergency items, food and water for rescue workers, and medical supplies were shipped from the Highlands Borough staging area to NY City.
My family and countless others in Congressional District 6 were deeply affected by what transpired on the morning of September 11, 2001. Many of us have pledged that “We will never forget” that fateful day and the lives lost. May we also never forget the patriotism and natural impulse we felt to care for each other.
In Highlands, volunteers lined the streets, one person per vehicle, offering rides to all who exited the ferries. The “Highlands Heroes” (First Aid, Fire Department, Police, Borough Employees and Elected Mayor and Council) were the first triage unit and evacuation point from New York City. Many evacuees did not even know where they were.
My husband exited a ferry some time before 2pm on 9.11.01 shocked that after he directed traffic to keep intersections clear for First Responders to get to the towers, most of those he helped to enter the buildings died in their collapse. To this day he will not describe the horrors he witnessed as people jumped from the buildings, and landed on roof tops, lamp posts, or the pavement. He refuses to mention the countless cars parked in ferry parking lots in Highlands, covered with dust, left for days before they were claimed by grieving family members, or towed away.
He cannot forget his life flashing before his eyes with thoughts of his young children as he handed out masks from a floating hospital to asthma sufferers while a cloud of dust engulfed him, not once but twice. He is grateful it was not a nuclear device, this time. One of the many walking wounded who still suffer from this event, he and many others will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives.
Our family is blessed because my husband came home that day alive and physically unharmed. How many families were broken by the death of a loved one who expired trapped in the collapsing towers or while trying to rescue someone on that fateful day? Everyone remembers where he or she was and what we were doing when the planes hit the towers, the Pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania. The last words of a brave citizen “Let’s Roll” are burned forever in our minds as an example of the inextinguishable American Spirit.
Just because it is legally possible for a Mosque to be built near “Ground Zero”, the former site of the World Trade Towers and the earthly grave of those who perished in the 9.11.01 attack does not mean such a building should be there. The freedom to do this does not make the action morally sensitive or correct.
The profound nature of what occurred at “Ground Zero” and the great sacrifices made by honorable Americans on that day merit respect and reverence. The religious symbol co-opted by the Jihadist terrorists responsible for the modern act of war would be out of place and inappropriate at “Ground Zero”. Thoughts of it have already stirred anger, grief and resentment. It does not promote peace and tolerance in the hearts of fellow Americans. Located on that site I propose that it never will.
I call upon Americans of all faiths to bond together once again in the face of our “Jihadist” enemy, who would use our freedoms and our perceived religious differences to defeat us and extinguish the American way of life.
Full disclosure of financial records disproving any connection with Jihadist terrorists would demonstrate sensitivity to those who still suffer and respect for those who perished on 9.11.01. In America, despite our differences, we share a pride and national spirit which is our inextinguishable strength.
If and when any development occurs at or near “Ground Zero”, I urge all parties to be sensitive and respectful to each other, appropriate in planning, with open dialogue and compromise which promotes peace and unity among Americans of all nationalities and faiths.
Mutual respect, unity in spirit and compromise are the antithesis to the terror imposed by our enemy. We must not give in to terror. We must not live in fear. Our enemy will use our differences to divide us. Only united as fellow Americans can we prevail.
Anna C. Little is the mayor of the Borough of Highlands and the Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!