By Stephen Flynn and Eddie Rosenstein
The opinions expressed are their own.
In the ten years since 9/11, the nation’s response to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon have been dissected and debated constantly. But one thing that hasn’t received enough attention is the effort we have taken in the intervening years to build a stronger, more resilient America for future generations.
As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington at the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit on September 8, 2011, “Our primary purpose today must be to look forward. [While] the perpetrators of 9/11 were obsessed with events that took place in the past, Americans always look to the future.”
Periodically, things will go very wrong. Risk and danger are inescapable facts of life. Resilience — a concept that has always defined America in times of crisis — applies not only to our response to terrorism but in our individual responses to crises large and small in our lives and in our communities.
We can be prepared, we can minimize the consequences when disaster strikes, and we can be ready to bounce back quickly whenever we are faced with catastrophes — both natural and manmade.
It is that desire to rebuild a stronger more resilient America that has shaped how we have picked ourselves up and moved forward when faced with adversity since the founding of America generations ago. That same desire also influenced our response to the 9/11 attacks.
Though the World Trade Center site was once a painful symbol of our vulnerability as a nation, it will soon become the most visible sign of what resilience can mean — and one of the most poignant symbols of our strength in the face of adversity.
The World Trade Centre site is being built using the most cutting-edge technology, engineering, and design to “bake-in” security so that it is one of the safest and most spectacular urban locations in the world, for commuters, shoppers, tourists and employees.
On the outside, the new World Trade Center Tower is now over eighty stories high and within two years it will be a bright and airy glass piece of art. Meanwhile, the inside has been built with metal bars the size of a man’s wrist, tens of thousands of pounds of concrete for blast strength resistance, and reinforced with armaments and steel invisible to the outside world.
No construction project in American history has taken place under a similar burden of history, pain, architectural and engineering ambition, and, of course, legal and political complications. But the new project has been grand, and is an expression not only of strength and defiance to those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, but also an expression of what resilience is all about — bouncing back, learning from the challenges of the past, and preparing for those of the future.
So much of America’s infrastructure is aging, and not gracefully. One reason why is that so many Americans have lost faith in our capacity to undertake world-class projects. The film “Rebuild” in telling the story of the rebirth of the World Trade Center site proves that we can still accomplish great engineering feats. It also reminds us that the best way we can honor the destruction and loss of that dark day ten years ago, is to commit ourselves to doing big things once again.
Stephen Flynn is the president of the Center for National Policy. Eddie Rosenstein directed the documentary “Rebuild”.
Photo: A man hangs a U.S. flag from the side of a building across from One World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young