But the true strength of America is not in its buildings, its wealth or even its military might. It is in its people and the freedoms they possess. That is why the United States did not crumble following Sept. 11, just as it did not after Pearl Harbor, the market crash of 1929, or any other number of national calamities.
There have been times, however, in the mourning and fear that succeed such horrific events, that the great responsibilities that come with those freedoms have been forgotten.
We have the freedom to speak and write what is on our minds. And we have a responsibility to do so with civility.
We have the freedom to worship as we choose. And we have a responsibility to allow others to do the same.
We have the freedom to petition the government to change laws and statues. And we have a responsibility to not waste it on frivolities.
We have the freedom to assemble and protest. And we have a responsibility to be peaceful.
We have the freedom to bear arms. And we have a responsibility to do so with care and caution.
We have countless other rights and protections against the abuses of others and our own government. And we have a responsibility to maintain them and uphold them, not only for ourselves, but for others as well.
And when those freedoms are in question, it is our responsibility to ourselves and one another — not to mention our national character — to err on the side of liberty.
This is the spirit of America: That it is better to let a guilty person walk free than jail an innocent; that majority rule does not lead to minority oppression; that to protect the speech you love, you must also protect the speech you hate.
This is the Golden Rule of America. Let it ring.