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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 14, 2001

America remains home of the brave

Invariably this nation's darkest hours have been marked by heroism of the highest order, even in hopeless and doomed efforts.

The examples are countless, from Nathan Hale's regret that he could make the ultimate sacrifice but once, to the killing fields like Antietam, Chosin Reservoir and Hamburger Hill; from captains who have gone down with their ships, to mothers who have flung their infants from the flames.

So it is with America's bloodiest day.

New Yorkers are heartbreakingly proud of their firefighters and police, who selflessly flung themselves on missions of mercy into the burning World Trade Center.

They should also honor their mayor, Rudy Giuliani, who broke the modern mold of the self-serving politician to provide genuine, tireless, responsive and compassionate leadership.

It's only due to cellular telephones that we know the barest outlines of some of the most hair-raising tales of personal heroism: The calls received from rescue workers themselves trapped in rubble; the murmured goodbyes to loved ones from those hopelessly trapped high in the burning towers.

And we can only marvel at the courage of the men aboard United Airlines Flight 93, who evidently called their loved ones, not to say goodbye but to verify the evil intent of their hijackers. It appears they voted to resist the hijackers, and while we may never know exactly what happened next, they likely saved many, many lives by dying in a Pennsylvania woods instead of a strategic site in the Washington area.

We have heard episode after episode in which someone, coming down or going up the stairwell of the World Trade Center, perhaps, or trapped outside in the coils of a dark burning cloud with strangers, has done just what needed to be done. No doubt we'll hear of many more.

It is such typically American examples of heroism that will help us to withstand the efforts of terrorists to cow us. We must never forget them.