There’s just about only one topic of conversation on campus and one issue that’s at the top of our minds: America’s war in Iraq. Just as in the wake of Sept. 11, we are focused on terror in the world, and how we can fight back against it.
But there’s a difference this time. After Sept. 11, we came together as a nation and a people more than we had in decades. People understood that when America is threatened, we need to put aside our differences over politics and other issues and come together. No matter what issues or challenges might divide us, what unites us is the fact that we are all Americans.
Today, when we are at war, we would expect our unity to be even greater than after Sept. 11. It isn’t, and that is a tragedy. In Fort Collins, Denver and around the country, people have decided to attack the war with heated and out-of-control rhetoric.
They call America a “killing machine.” They say that this war is only about oil, or power. They’re wrong.
No one wants war. No one wants to see people lose their lives. No one wants a family to go through the pain of burying a soldier who lost his life in battle.
But we are fighting for a reason. The people of Iraq deserve freedom, and the people of America deserve to be free of the threat of terrorism. That is why we are at war, and that’s why soldiers are willing to fight for us.
There’s also a reason why terrorists hate America. They see a land filled with generous people, who are able to live in freedom and opportunity. They see universities like ours where students have a bright future in front of them. They see that so many young people from around the world want to come to America, or, at least, act like Americans.
When we understand these facts, then perhaps we can come together around the idea that America must defend freedom around the world. We know that in years past Americans have aided just about every nation in the world, during their time of need. We are doing that again in Iraq. If we can unite around the idea that we are a powerful and unique nation, then maybe we can move beyond the negative campaigning of the war and the so-called “peaceful” demonstrations and support the efforts of our leaders – instead of questioning their strategies.
These men and women who lead our country are, in fact, briefed daily, even hourly, on the War on Terror and threats to our security. They are briefed on information gathered around the world concerning the Middle East, the threats to America, and the intentions of terrorists and terrorist-supporting governments.
Moreover, they are in constant communication with the CIA, FBI, Interpol, NATO, The United Nations, our own military and our allies around the world. We cannot simply believe that we have full knowledge of the threats because we watch the nightly news or read the morning paper. We cannot believe that we are, in anyway, as informed as our leaders.
If future generations are to enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers bestowed upon us, if they are ever to know peace in their own country and around the world, or to live without fear of a terrorist strike, we must assure that this nation remains strong. We must make sure those who would destroy us are made aware of the grave consequences that will come upon them. Iraq must never again be a haven for terrorists of any kind.
All of us need reminders of how special America is. We are a nation that welcomes diversity and that tolerates faiths of all sorts. For centuries, we have welcomed people here who want freedom. The strength and character and heroism of America is truly indisputable. And I have faith that this reputation will not be tarnished.