We have a lot of heroes out there, but many of their names don’t often hit the pages of the newspapers or even warrant 15-second clips on television. And I think at this sad time we should stop and honour heroes – big and small.
There was young David Michael Barkway who courageously led a group of passengers on a hijacked passenger plane during the recent terrorist attack and caused the plane to crash in an isolated area and conceivably saved the White House and hundreds of more people from being killed.
There were all the firemen, police officers and rescue workers at the World Trade Centre twin towers who were heading up the stairs to rescue the people in the building while others were passing them down the stairs fleeing for their lives. Those 300 men left weeping widows and hundreds of children behind.
There were the volunteers who came to help with whatever they could do in such numbers that New York had to say “Thanks but no thanks.”
There were the airline pilots, the stewardesses and the passengers on the four planes who were the innocent victims of a diabolical plot.
There were the people who wrote out cheques that would choke a horse to help the survivors’ families.
There were the people all over the world who resisted turning on their Muslim neighbours and trying to blame them for the terrorist tragedy.
There was the media which for the most part handled the terrorist attack with restraint – no name calling, no cries for blood. They were even tempered and cool. Especially CNN.
There was the clergy of all faiths denouncing the terrorist acts as evil and not in keeping with their religious tenets.
There was Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York, throwing himself into the battle to save victims in the smoking ruins of the World Trade Centre with the zeal of a Joan of Arc.
There was the prime minister of Canada getting his act together after initially giving the appearance of being afraid of a terrorist attack himself.
There was Tony Blair, the prime minister of England, not afraid to jump in there at the side of their good friend the U.S.A. and offering Bush total and enthusiastic support.
There was the King of Saudi Arabia, mindful of the help the U.S. gave in rescuing Kuwait and thrashing Saddam Hussein, reaffirming a shrewd alliance.
There was a procession of world figures (Castro and Hussein were missing) pledging assistance (of various degrees) for the war against international terrorism. We pray that their enthusiasm will not wane in the months ahead.
There was the president of the United States, George W. Bush, who was simply magnificent. Presented with the difficulty of an almost evenly divided electorate and portrayed as a weakling by a hostile media, he definitely rose to the occasion. Bush knew there was a hostile world out with many Muslim nations feeling that the U.S. was in bed with Israel. His demeanour and his speeches were a clarion call for all free peoples in the world to come together to fight and defeat international terrorism once and for all.
Bush had to convince them that this was not a war against Islam but against terrorism. Terrorist-exporting nations are usually the last to want terrorism to happen to them. Bush galvanized his nation – quickly uniting it in a common cause. His speeches were Lincolnesque. They will ring out in history books for centuries to come. The president laid down his terms to the Taliban: “Whether we bring our enemies to justice or justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”