From Chicken Soup for the Soul of America

They Took a Vote

Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it until the test comes.

Carl Sandburg

The strength of a country comes from its people. It always has and always will. No matter what pomp and bravado a government shows, the solidity of the nation is directly determined by that of the individual citizen.

America has been shaken to its core by acts of terror. Many, including our president, have said we are strong, that we have resolve and that we will persevere. These words mean nothing to terrorists. Terrorists wait to see the actions of people, of individuals, to see if they will buckle and cower.

The cowards who killed our sisters and brothers, our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters should know what happened on the flight they unsuccessfully tried to turn into a bomb over Pennsylvania. So should the rest of our fellow countrymen and women. In the history of this country of freedom, there has never been an event more emblematic of the values and heroism of the United States of America.

The flight had been hijacked, and was being turned around to be used as ammunition against innocent civilians at some unknown target in Washington, D.C. After some hurried cell phone calls to their loved ones, passengers learned of the World Trade Center attacks. They considered the consequences, then they took a vote together.

In that instant, they validated the great experiment of the United States of America. They voted. They affirmed the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, our entire history of freedom, and gave meaning to every soldier who’s ever died in the service of this country. Faced with all of the threats that this country stands against, and in their own last hour, these Americans determined their path with a simple act of democracy, of freedom. They voted.

They voted to give their lives to save the innocent people for which the plane was headed.

Think about that for a moment. It’s the very definition of heroic. There is something else in that story, however, something incredible that should fill every American with pride. None of those American passengers took command. Nobody ordered them to attack the terrorists. Nobody forced them to follow along with the heroic insurgence.

Faced with death, tyranny, and terror, those Americans voted to sacrifice their lives for others.

September 11, 2001, is a day, as was said of Pearl Harbor, that will live in infamy. Thousands perished at the hands of cowards. We should never forget, however, that it was also the day that a few heroic patriots thousands of feet above Pennsylvania farmland sent a message to the entire world—our commitment to freedom and democracy, in the United States of America, is not wavering, it is not shaken, and it cannot be taken away by any act.

America is freedom.

Bill Holicky

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners