Today American flags fly from homes, mailboxes, trees, driveways and car aerials. Yellow ribbons representing more than 5,000 people missing and killed in the World Trade Centre disaster are displayed throughout the country. It has been said that if only America would return to prayer the eugenic designs that have surfaced in the nation’s policies could be corrected. But Americans have always prayed. True to their practice, when the recent dreadful violence was directed against people in New York City and Washington, D.C., the nation’s people flocked to their churches, praying and holding candlelight memorials.

The problems have not been caused by a lack of prayer but by an earlier ideological attack on the Judeo-Christian values of the people through government agencies, economic policies, the judiciary, mainline churches and educational institutions. UN agencies joined the attack through the recycling of U.S. funds into the country to NGOs acting as agents of change. The people of the nations involved in such attacks are the first victims and it is among those people that the first symptoms occur. The demographic trajectories of the UN Population Division (December 1990) noted the sustained fertility decline in Northern America, Europe, Oceania and the U.S.S.R. prior to 1950. The decline was accompanied by growing cultural attacks in those nations. Succeeding generations succumbed to the redefined moral culture. Similar attacks were carried out in other nations. Anger and hate directed against the American people viewed, not as victims, but as world leaders, are among the consequences of those attacks.

There are those who view the tragedy of the violent attacks on innocent people in the United States as cause for celebration. Those who would say “they had it coming.” Those who see revolution as a guarantee of social justice. Those who view the violence of man as “the will of God.” Those who cower before the need for truth for fear they will not “win.” Those who view human tragedy as an opportunity for self aggrandizement and material benefit. Those who generate hate and propaganda as a means of political opposition. And those who preach hopelessness and despair to force people to their knees, forgetting that hope is virtue and despair a sin.

We dare not be among them for we are called to truth and virtue; we cannot do evil that good will come of it. This is the substance of freedom, above the pressures of the world, derived from God; a strength founded on self sacrifice, humility, love, courage and the amazing “turning of the cheek” rather than vengeance. Such human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity joined to prudence. Perhaps we are now witnessing the opening of the American soul in the sacrifices of rescue personnel, the stories of people valiantly searching for family members and the grieving of the nation; or perhaps this tragedy has provided an opportunity to express such openness in testimonies placed before a previously skeptical world.

Among thousands of dramatic personal stories, Alice Hoglan’s valiant expression of heartbreaking grief speaks for all American mothers through her courageous smiles and tears as she spoke of her son’s final call from United Airlines Flight 93. That flight, which crashed in western Pennsylvania, was the only one that did not accomplish its treacherous mission, lending credence to a later report of the passengers’ intent to overpower the hijackers. Her glowing assurance that her son actively assisted that effort revealed her unshakable belief in his fortitude and courage.

And what a transformation of the press! An NBC reporter assured Alice Hoglan, with great compassion, that her son’s final call must be viewed as a “gift?”