God Bless America
by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Editor

Richard Johnstone
Richard Johnstone

Before September 11, surely only a handful of Americans truly appreciated just how safe and secure our country had been throughout its first 212 years as a republic. The British invaded in 1812. A great Civil War raged for four years in the 1860s. But great conflicts since then have been on foreign shores. Europe. Asia. North Africa. The South Pacific. But not here. Not in the continental United States.

Then, in a matter of minutes on a beautiful late summer morning whose sky had the glow of early fall, the peace and security we had always known was gone. “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” lamented folk singer Joni Mitchell in the 1970s about the rapid development of the American countryside. Thirty years later, these words resonate even more truly about the devastating loss America suffered on that Tuesday in innocent lives, and innocence generally. Terrorism is no longer a surreal segment on the evening news about horrific events in Tel Aviv or Mogadishu. Terrorism has had a United States address since September 11. First, terrorists attacked the very symbols of American military might and commercial power in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Next, and since then, terrorists have attacked our peace of mind, our daily routines, our health. Letters with anthrax. Threats of smallpox, and who-knows-what-else.

But whenever and wherever freedom has been threatened, Americans have responded. In the foxholes of France in World War I. On the beaches of Normandy and dozens of islands across the Pacific Ocean in World War II. In Korea and Vietnam. In Kuwait 10 years ago. And today, we’ve been called to engage in a war both abroad and, for the first time, here at home. Rooting out the world’s most insidious and odious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, is only the first part of what will be an ongoing campaign against terrorism. Democracy and decency have always accompanied America in all our military and political endeavors around the globe. And because of these values — on behalf of these values — we’ve always fought and won.

America will prevail in this fight as well. But it will likely require more of a universal effort than we’ve ever seen before. Volunteering to give blood, or to help a local rescue squad or Red Cross unit are the visible things we can do. Perhaps just as importantly, we all should try to make sure that we win the mental battle as well. By not giving in to fear. By not panicking at every rumor or threat. By being cautious and vigilant and supportive of each other. In short, by exhibiting the very best traits that Americans are known for.

As we enter this holiday season, let’s all be especially thankful for the many blessings we have inherited as Americans. The blessing of freedom to live, work and worship where we want. The blessing of abundant food from the rich natural bounty of this land. Perhaps most of all, the blessing to move about freely, to laugh openly, to see and hear and do what we please when we please with whom we please, as long as it doesn’t break any laws or infringe upon the freedom or safety of others.

The terrorists won’t win the military war that’s being fought. Let’s all make sure as Americans that they don’t win the psychological war either.

So, happy holidays to all members of Virginia’s 13 consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which have been democratically owned and controlled by our members for three generations. And most of all, God bless our men and women in uniform here and abroad, and may God continue to bless America.


Home ] Up ] Cover Story ] Say Cheese! ] Food For Thought ] Dining In ] [ Editorial ] Reader Recipes ] Down Home ]