By Michael Aun
On the eleventh day of the ninth month of the year of 2001, the United States of America, without provocation was attacked by cowards who tried to break the spirt of a great and free country. They failed and we are stronger because of it.
As a country, it was one of the two worst days we have ever experienced. Bad as it was, it brought out the very best of what constitutes the good within all of us. The foundation of our freedom is not constructed on fear but rather on courage.
December 7, 1941 or September 11, 2001… either could have torn us asunder and yet… neither did. Instead, they brought to life that merciful sphere of courage that lay within the depth of our hearts and souls. They woke a sleeping giant.
Often enemies of liberty underestimate the resolve on which freedom itself is built. It is about our independence, our choices we make, the sovereignty to elect who we choose… and to throw them out when they outlive their welcome.
Do not think for a moment that our restraint as a nation is anything closely akin to cowardness or lack of resolve. No amount of terror or fear will deter us from boldly defeating anything or anyone who would want to overthrow our freedom. The awfulness of those thoughts repulses all threats to freedom.
Hate can and does do evil, but love can be many times more powerful. Love of freedom for many selfless people trumps love of one’s self. That is the very definition of bravery and why those who serve others do so with their eyes wide open.
Those old enough can remember exactly where they were on September 11, 200l. I was in my office complex interviewing a new employee when the news broke on radio, prompting us to turn to television. Millions around the globe watched at that very moment as the second tower tumbled to the ground.
We all remember the drastic measures the country immediately took, shutting down all airline transportation in addition to taking powerful measures to shore up our safety both here and abroad. As a society, we were lost and forsaken for a moment in time.
Several days later, I got a phone call from coaches at Osceola High School, asking me to do the play-by-play for a Thursday junior varsity football game between visiting St. Cloud and arch-rival Osceola High School.
At the time, I was the play-by-play announcer at St. Cloud High School, but I knew some of the Osceola coaches and they felt I could handle the job fairly. I was fair to everyone that night… except those who tried to exploit America. And I only had four words to say to them.
The country had basically been placed on hold. This was unusual turf. There was no game plan for how to handle things. When the airlines shut down on 9-11, it was one of the most impactful and paralyzing ways to cripple us.
So many of my fellow speakers who made their living flying from one venue to another immediately had to find a way to improvise. Over time, many left the business because they simply did not have income from other sources. Meeting planners everywhere were cutting their losses, not only cancelling speakers but entire meetings.
I was presented a prepared pre-game script acknowledging the attack on America. The script called for a preamble followed by eleven seconds of silence for the events earlier in the week.
Miraculously… almost as if scripted, a Delta Airlines 747 lifted off through the flight pattern that hoovered over Osceola High School that faithful Thursday night. No airline had flown since the Tuesday morning’s four-prong attack by al-Qaeda.
As the plane gathered strength to climb into the skies over central Florida, those who gathered for a Jay Vee football game, searching for a bit of normalcy, could finally see hope for the first time.
My four-word comment was…. “WE WIN… YOU LOSE!”
Michael Aun, CSP®, CPAE® is a Hall of Fame Speaker and 1978 Winner of the World Championship of Public Speaking for Toastmasters International®.