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AMERICAN PHOENIX:
THE WORLD TRADE CENTER MUST RISE FROM THE ASHES

By Michael Giorgino

The World Trade Center must rise again. Those magnificent towers, blasted into ruins by terrorists, must once again soar above New York’s skyline. Our slaughtered countrymen must be avenged. Our enemies must be destroyed. This act must not stand!

In 1996, I steamed into New York Harbor as Officer of the Deck of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. We had just passed the Statue of Liberty with its torch held skyward like the skyscrapers beyond. Looking to starboard, I was startled by the immense beauty and grandeur of those twin monoliths rising up from the shore of the Hudson. I was coming home to where I grew up and where I had recently commanded a Naval Reserve Center at Fort Schuyler on the East River. I remembered vividly the intense relief I had felt when I saw the twin towers still standing after the bombing three years earlier.

My grandfathers came to this country through the Port of New York. They came seeking the promise of capitalism: free men could work hard, trade freely with one another, and build a better life. Michael Panagis came alone as a teenager in 1913, a Greek refugee from Smyrna, Turkey. He owned a series of restaurants and delicatessens in the New York metropolitan area. Luigi Giorgino came to America in 1922 after serving on the front lines in the Italian Army during World War I. He worked on the railroad for five years until he could afford to bring his wife and my uncles over from Italy. He worked as a cement mason all his life. Both men came to America with the expectancy of a better life in a land where they could breathe free.

In The Fountainhead, novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand wrote:

"I would give the greatest sunset in the word for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes, the shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. . . . Do [men] seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window–no, I don't feel how small I am–but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body."

That is how I feel about the attack on the World Trade Center. It is a direct attack against me, against my family, against the hope and promise of freedom that is America. I would fight this evil at the expense of my own life.

This act of war against our country rekindles the eternal struggle between two forces–good and evil, throughout the world. America is great because it is good. Ours is the spirit that harnessed the forces of nature in the service of mankind: fire, steam, electricity, and the atom; that landed men on the Moon; that built the world's greatest airplanes and skyscrapers. These were the achievements of free men and women, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and industrialists.

What is it the destroyers hate about America? Rand knew: "In various disguises, the motive has been the same throughout history: hatred of man's mind–and, therefore, of man–and, therefore, of life–and, therefore, of any success, happiness or value man may achieve in life. The motive is hatred of the good for being the good."

What is so difficult to understand about our enemies (but we must realize) is they do not hate America for its flaws–they hate us for our virtues. They do not despise our weaknesses; they resent our strengths. They do not blame us for our failures; they envy our accomplishments. Make no mistake: the focus of their hatred, the target of its passionate fury is our freedom! The World Trade Center was targeted because it symbolizes ability, intelligence, integrity, and the pure joy of human achievement.

We cannot escape history. As in the time of Lincoln, the fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. We too must highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain and that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom.

We must support our Commander in Chief and our armed forces. We must hunt down and destroy the terrorists who committed these acts. As long and difficult as it may be, we must not shrink from the task of annihilating the regimes that harbored, supported, and encouraged them. To crown our victory, the World Trade Center must rise again like a phoenix from its ashes, as a beacon of hope and freedom to America and the world.


Mike Giorgino retired as a Commander from the U.S. Navy in 1997, and is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. He graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in December 1999, and practices law in San Diego. He may be contacted at [email protected]


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