Terrorism is huge in the news again ... a new, more violent form of terrorism not only sweeping Iraq but vowing to bloody western Europe and America.
On this coming Fourth of July, we recall this courtroom episode ...
Richard Reid, the 2001 al-Qaeda shoe bomber snarled at Federal Court Judge William Young about to sentence him ...
"I am at war with your country."
Judge Young responded with these inspiring words ...
"Let me explain this to you, Mr. Reid. We are not afraid of you or any terrorist co-conspirators. We are Americans. We have been through fire before ...
"You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist ... To call you a soldier gives you too much stature. We do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice ...
"You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our freedom to live as we choose, to believe or not to believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea ...
"See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will."
We dare not ever forget this ... American blood has preserved the freedom we enjoy in our time.
To this very day, GIs around the world are protecting us against determined enemies like the Sept. 11 hijackers.
4,435 Colonial soldiers died in the Revolution.
Indeed, it was on July 1, 1775, that some 80 members of the York Rifle Company left their loved ones and, on foot, headed toward Boston.
Marching more than 400 miles, they were the first rifle company recruited by Congress to join the Continental Army. Historians tell us that the Yorkers were excellent marksmen, able to hit a man-size target at 300 yards.
Every Yorker knows the name Crispus Attucks ... right? Sure, it's the remarkable education-oriented community center on South Duke.
But the name represents a lot more ... a perpetual reminder that Crispus Attucks, an African-American, was the first person to die in the Revolutionary War ... a man celebrated as "the first to defy, the first to die ... the first to pour out his blood as a precious libation on the altar of people's rights."
Crispus Attucks ... the first colonial to die in what history knows as the "Boston Massacre."
York is honored to have two signers of the Declaration of Independence buried here ... James Smith, at First Presbyterian, and Philip Livingston, at Prospect Hill.
In keeping with tradition, the Daughters of the American Revolution will conduct ceremonies at Colonel Smith's grave at 10 a.m. July 4. All are welcome.
Yorkers maintain another tradition ... tapping the local Liberty Bell at St. John's Episcopal Church after 10 a.m. service July 4.
The bell summoned locals to the Colonial Court House to hear news of signing of the Declaration of Independence.
St. John's explains: The bell will be rung 13 times in honor of the original colonies, then "all persons present will be invited to ring the bell themselves ... gently, of course."
As we celebrate our independence ... consider these prophetic words from the past ...
"It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible." — George Washington.
Upon emerging from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government the United States was going to have. Franklin pointedly replied: "A Republic, if you can keep it."
Can we keep it? From Ronald Reagan we get this warning ...
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like to live in the United States where men were free."