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Our Flame Burns Brightly

Please join our community this evening at 5:30 pm at Cedar Grove Park as we remember those who perished on 9/11. A moment of silence, words of reflection, honor guard and the planting of two trees at the base of the grove of cedars.

It was just before 6 am and I was standing in the ready room of the Institutional Security Unit, “gearing up” for my shift. Someone brought my attention to the television in the corner and the burning building on the screen. “A plane just hit it”, was all my partner said. As we watched in stunned silence, a blur…then, suddenly, the building alongside the first was burning. We couldn’t believe our eyes. We slowly fathomed that another aircraft deliberately hit the second tower.

And our lives were changed forever.

I find it curious that many of  us, myself included, can remember where we were the day of the most important events of our lives. I remember my mom calling my brothers and me in to see the tape being run of John F. Kennedy being assassinated. I remember watching as live film of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald was displayed on the same TV.  In 1969, I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon and speak those famous words, And yes, I cried when I heard this famous man passed away. The Challenger and the Columbia? I can tell you where I was and what I was doing, along with the tragic fire of Apollo 1 and the near loss of Apollo 13 that would have ended in catastrophe had it not been for the heroic efforts of NASA engineers who would not let their charges die alone, in space. And, I will always remember where I was when the towers fell.

Our country is not defined by blustering politicians or the good times we hold so dear to us, but in our ability to overcome adversity. Even in the face of the darkest evil we could imagine, we show our best and show the world that we are strongest, when we appear to be at our weakest. Like it or not, we are also our brothers’ keeper and, as in the days of the forgotten war of Korea, or the 1968 Tet Offensive of Vietnam, it is our duty to keep the flame of freedom burning brightly when others would seek to extinguish it.

Today, please take a moment out to pray for the souls of our brothers and sisters who perished on 9/11 and remember their lives were not lost in vain. They showed the world that the United States of America is made up of everyday heroes who would gladly give up there lives to keep that flame burning.

Happy Birthday, United States of America!

A happy Fourth of July to all of our readers here in Our Town Tustin.

I sometimes wonder what our founding fathers would think if they had a crystal ball available to look into the future. Would they have signed the Declaration of Independence? Would they set their new country on an irreversible path? Would they have misgivings about what the  country would become? I believe they would have signed and congratulated themselves on a future job well done. For all of our problems, political and fiscal, we continue to be the strongest nation in the world. Our patriotism is second to none. Other nations continue to look at us as the cradle of freedom, democracy and hope for the entire world.

I am sure the founding fathers did not see it that way originally.

At a time when the English were exerting their influence throughout the world through fear and intimidation, the fledgling colonies were high on their list of “must keep” territories. They had a strong presence in the Americas and intended to keep their prize and her subjects subjugated to the Empire. In spite of that, fifty-six men committed treason and signed the Declaration of Independence setting forth the reasons for Revolution and stating, in author Thomas Jefferson’s words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

Contrary to popular belief, none of the signatories were executed or imprisoned for signing the Declaration. However, many went on to fight in the Revolutionary War and all were instrumental in securing the basis for the government we enjoy today.

So, when you are out barbequing the hamburgers & hot dogs and enjoying the fireworks tonight at Tustin High School, take a moment to remember these men who believed so strongly in the formation of our country, they were willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary, for what we enjoy today.