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September 11: From Death, a Reminder of the Gift of Life — and the United States

Religious items recovered from World Trade Center offices on display at the Ground Zero museum.

I had been scheduled to fly to California to be on HBO’s Politically Incorrect. There was a family emergency and I had to apologize and back out. Barbara Olson was scheduled in my place. That’s why she was on a plane on the morning of September 11, 2001. For a long time, I felt guilty about that. We talked often during the Florida recount. We were going to do an interview about Hillary Clinton when her book came out later in the fall. My dear friend Kate O’Beirne, our former Washington editor, loved her so. And we lost her because of how much evil hates the United States.

Looking back 19 years later, it’s a painful and yet awesome grace. That we had her in our lives. Isn’t that one of the gifts of this day every year? All these beautiful people who were among us, who so many loved? I finally went to the Freedom Tower a year or so ago and was moved by all the holy cards from the offices in the World Trade Center that were found, even in the devastation. Small reminders that life and light wins. Also, this nation is worth fighting for. In the last few weeks, I’ve started venturing out a bit more than I have since March and I talked with an Uber driver from Nigeria. Even with all our flaws, the U.S. is a beacon. As so many seek to destroy, this is a time to join in prayer for renewal in this country. Our families, our lives — we owe it to all those who live here to fight for light. We obviously owe it to God for the gift of life and freedom! This day takes on so many more levels of meaning this year. We have worked to preserve life. Why? Because it’s a gift. It’s a gift to live, period, and it’s a gift to live here.

We owe it to Barbara Olson and everyone who died 19 years ago today. We owe it to our God who gave us life.

We pray for all who continue to grieve. We pray, too, that the light that we saw in Barbara and anyone and everyone who we might have known or loved who died that day, continues in us. The best of America is stewardship of all the gifts. Let’s continue in the best of our traditions. And may the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

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