When that Eagle Soars

By Fred Atkinson


It never ceases to amaze me how many Americans equate flight with freedom. Most that do don't consciously realize it. Their perception, however, is essentially correct.  

The Flag of the United States appears in its most infinite glory when it is shown flying violently against the sky. It reminds us in a dazzling display of the promise of freedom, not only for ourselves, but for our children and all mankind.  

And why else would the eagle be our national symbol? What is more inspiring to us than when our military planes fly over at great speeds during public celebrations? When the troops from the Gulf War marched in Washington, I was in awe of the spectacle of the Stealth, the AWACs, and our great fighter planes as they buzzed the mall. What a inspiring reminder it was.  

The frontier of space is no less. "The Eagle has landed" was the call given as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed on the moon. It once again confirmed that flight remains a symbol of that for which we stand.  

There is a basic element of our foundation that preserves freedom. It is our resilience, our willingness to stand together when freedom is threatened. Americans show their brightest colors when freedom is on the line. And we are still showing them today.

In the absence of conflict, we tend to get complacent and take our national security for granted as we did during the Clinton Administration. In the wake of September 11, our colors were reborn. But nothing rallies Americans together more strongly than when we dare to stop those who would take our freedoms and the freedoms of others. That is why freedom will always prevail.  

I saw the eagle soaring. In Afghanistan, American troops went in with the goals of liberating Afghanistan for the short term and eliminating Al Qaaeda fighters who would fight against America’s dreams by spreading death and destruction everywhere. The eagle is not stopping in Afghanistan. It has many other destinations to fly to enforcing the security of free nations and liberate many who aren't presently living free. The eagle will do the job, make no mistake about that. The eagle is soaring again. Today’s conflict is not yet over.  

In the Gulf War, the eagle soared as another enemy of freedom dared to invade another nation. We stood tall and rallied as our military and our allies enforced the dream.  

I’ve been fortunate to live in the United States. Over the years, my experience with the remarkable events of our days and the fortitude America has shown has become overwhelming. For many, that we exist is all the hope they have left. Others see America as a strong ally who will stand with them for the cause.  

That eagle is magnificent. It is courageous, enduring, and capable of delivering a swift and terrible justice. It has never been more evident than today as it is seen in our citizens, our soldiers, and our public servants.


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This article appeared in the The Loudoun Times-Mirror on May 1, 2002.

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