ďWeíre not the guardians of society, Raphael... we never were.Ē
- TMNT Vol. 1, #19

 

 

YEARS EARLIER. . .

 

 

SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001
8:07 AM
EST

It was a cool Tuesday morning in the Big Apple, the sky clearer than it had been, the air... well, most New Yorkers would tell a person that you get used to the air.

Chang Lao stood absentmindedly on the freshly-painted basketball court just down the block from the New York flat he was presently calling his home, aiming for a three-pointer. Aside from the fact that the shoelace on one of his wingtips was untied, his stance was perfect; he obviously knew what he was doing. Lao shot the ball and swish ó ball went through net and bounced back towards him.

"Nice shot, brutha!" a passer-by behind the fencing in a matching Adidas outfit shouted.

"Thanks!" Lao called back, grinning. Coming to this court once in a while never did fail to relieve a bit of his daily stress.

Even when he was a child, not more than seven years of age, Lao had liked to play basketball when he got the chance. He didnít find it hard to learn or get good at and he had made the team team the first day of tryouts in Junior High and later in High School. Ever since beginning his career after college Laoís reign over the courts was a forgotten thing, forgotten right beside the days when the city bullies reigned over him.

"Ah, those were the days..." After a long, wistful sigh of thoughtful reflection, Lao shot the ball again. Another swoosh.

He shot the ball yet again, expecting to hear the familiar clink of the ball against the chain net but instead, he heard the noise of another basketball knocking into his, sending his own ball flying away. "Hey, what the hellís your..." Lao started as he went to retrieve the ball before seeing just who was standing there.

"Problem?" His good friend Donatello, in the flesh, was standing a few feet away from him. As he tossed off his baseball cap he noticed he had his red bandana tied not over his eyes but around his forehead as a skullcap and was clad head to toe in sweat attire. Lao glanced up at him face and the two made eye contact. "Chang Lao, good to see you!"

"Hey, hey." Lao cracked a grin, beginning to dribble his basketball in front of him. "Here for another friendly game, Don?"

Donatello returned the grin. He still couldnít believe the same young kid heíd taught to defend himself against common hoodlums those many years ago had become the spry adult that was offering him such good competition in their frequent basketball bouts. "Hey, why not? Just stepped out for a moment from the lair... family problems, yíknow, that sort of thing."

"All right, cool," Lao said with a smile. "You know Iím always down for a challenge. Gotta make it quick, though... you wouldnít believe the workload Iíve got ahead of me this week, the pressureís killing me. Itís insane." He nodded emphatically to the briefcase heíd set on the park bench, right beside his sports jacket and tie. "In fact, if I donít get in to work in about one hour for my departmentís presentation ó which you better believe I stayed up all night working on ó you better also believe Iím as good as gone."

"Oh thatís right... youíre a career man now." Donatello chuckled. "Listen to you."

"Yeah, nine to five, Christmas bonuses, the whole shebang."

"Good for you, Lao." Don reached out and gave Lao a hearty one-armed brotherly hug. "I always knew youíd make it, kid. Proud of you."

Lao nodded. "That I even survived my childhood in this city I owe to you so much... what you taught me. If I can make the most of my life every day since... that, I feel, is the best way to honor your gift."

"Aw, now youíre talking like a whiner now!"

Lao winced. "Whu-what?"

"Hah!" With that, Don flung the ball at Lao. His hope to catch Lao off-guard didnít work, and Lao instinctively caught it and ran in for a layup. Donatello blocked and knocked the ball from his grasp. Lao swore and tried to grab the ball, but missed and his hand brushed against Donatelloís shell. Laoís face flushed as Donatelloís head whipped around mock-angrily. He shoved Lao in the stomach and ran towards his hoop, stopping at the three point line. Lao got up and went after him, getting in his face.

At one point Donatello was lining up for a three-pointer when Lao jumped in front of him. Don took a step back, not letting go of the ball. "Travel!" Lao declared. Donatello narrowed his eyes and shoved the ball at Lao, who responded by taking another step forward.

For some time they continued, neither one gaining a significant advantage until the agile Lao shoved his way through Don to get a decisive slam dunk.

Taking off his bandana, Donatello wiped the sweat from his brow. "Whoo... good game. Must be getting old, you handing my shell to me like this."

Lao shook his head. "You went easy on me, my friend, but thatís all right."

The two exchanged a bow of mutual respect as they usually did whenever they parted ways, then Lao began gathering his things off the park bench. "Wish we could continue, Donatello, but I have to head to work now. Thank you for the workout."

"Anytime, anywhere, kid ó and you better believe thereís going to be a rematch. Take care of yourself... and hold onto your lunch money!" Don gave a laugh.

"Oh yes, I will. You, too."

As he heard Chang Lao starting up his car nearby and heading out, Donatello picked up his basketball began taking some practice shots himself.  He practiced for nearly half an hour before deciding to take a quick breather.

Resting on the bench a moment, removing the water bottle from his belt, his foot accidentally kicked something under the bench.

Chang Laoís briefcase! In his haste to get to work he must have completely forgotten about it.

"Man... I donít know if Chang Laoís new bosses are going to like him showing up for work without his presentation stuff... hmmm..." Donatello paused for a moment. "No biggie, no biggie... Iíll just call him on his cell phone and let him know before itís too late..." Rifling through the deep pockets of his sweat pants he retrieved his own cell phone ó or more accurately Caseyís (who had taken the liberty of setting all the Turtles up with a family plan in his good name the previous Christmas). Clumsily pecking through the menu on his phone with great difficulty with his three oversized fingers, he eventually navigated his way to Chang Laoís name on his call list. "Damn cell phones getting smaller all the time..." Don muttered, pressing the "Call" button over Chang Laoís name.

A moment passed, then suddenly a loud, rhythmic noise nearby startled Don.

"Aw, shit..."

The noise was coming from Laoís briefcase... the kid had left his cell phone inside it.

Donatello took a deep breath, ended his call, and picked up the briefcase. Storing his basketball under the bench for the time being he headed toward the street as he began pecking on his cell phone to dial a taxi cab.

"Chang Lao," Don said to himself with a shake of his head, "youíre going to owe me one, kid..."


8:11 AM

Raphael kicked open the door of the "Poppaís Pub" and angrily stormed back out onto the street. A couple of burly, thoroughly-tattooed men poked their heads out of the door and then went back inside, satisfied, as if checking to see if Raphael had truly left.

"Iíve been coming to this fucking place with Casey for something like the past five years... and today is the day they finally decide to card me!" he shouted. "Damn!"

Whatís a Turtle got to do to get a freakiní early morniní brewsky? Christ...

As he contemplated the embarrassing thought of possibly having April or Casey go out to buy him some beer, Raphael nearly tripped over an older, bearded man sitting on the sidewalk as he rounded the street corner.

Raphael was startled. The manís wrinkled, soiled face contorted into something resembling a smile, though he had noticeably had no teeth. Seemed disheveled, almost certainly homeless, he had long greasy white hair and wore tattered jeans as well as a black "I Love N.Y." T-shirt. "Could be a lot worse, partner!" the man quipped, then laughed drunkenly.

Raph scoffed at the man. "Yeah, up yours, too, buddy."

"Have it your way, greenie! I wush going to share my brew with you, help a brother in need kinda thing, but now..."

Raph harrumphed. "All right, what do you got, old timer?"

"Well, letshee here..." The disheveled man produced a half-drank 24 oz. bottle with no label, with yellow-orange contents not too unlike urine. "Itís not Crystile... and it ainít no vintage... but Iíll tell you what, greenie, itíll keep you warm at night!" He began his hoarse, rather obnoxious laughter again.

Well, if itís between this or bugging April or Casey... "If it was any other day but this..." Raphael made a face, snatched the bottle from the man, and took enough swigs to leave it at only a quarter of its original contents before returning it. He gave a burp, shook his head violently, then clapped the man on the back. "Hot damn, mister... definitely not a vintage."

"Heheh, íatís the spirit, greenie! Youíre all right in my book!"

Raph wiped his mouth. "Heh, yeah, all right... see you." Tossing a twenty bill on the old-timerís lap, he continued on his way.

 

8:32 AM

Why must it always be like this... Raphael, damn you...

Leonardo sat cross-legged on the thatched mat of his brothersí training sanctum deep within their mausoleum lair. One could smell the aromatic incense smoke pouring from the many acupuncture needles protruding from his relaxed body from anywhere in the lair. Still, Leonardo concentrated on what troubled him.

Breathing in the soothing incense as he cleared his mind of all trivial thoughts, his mind became focused as a tempered blade. The problems became clear in his mindís eye, all self-doubt eased away like storm clouds swept away by the wind.

His brothers were very different people, yet shared a bond of brotherhood. It was all Leonardo could do to set the example, the ideal, and hope that the others would follow.

He only feared that one day, without Splinter, he may not be able to hold his brothers together. In a world that would never welcome them, a society that they could never be a party of, that would truly be a lonely place of dying. Leonardo would give his life to keep that from happening, as surely as his word was his bond.

 

8:45 AM

Michaelangelo reclined on the sofa in April OíNeil and Casey Jonesí two-bedroom apartment, sipping some coffee as Caseyís young daughter, Shadow, channel-surfed on the television set worse than Raphael. Absently, he glanced at the television screen as she clicked through, finally stopping on one. Some kind of projectile seemed to quickly ram into what appeared to be one of the World Trade Center towers, smoke, debris, and fire billowing out from the impact point.

"Cripes, what is that, Die Hard IV?" Mike shook his head at the little girl. "Ah-ah-ah. Címon, Shadow... you know April and Casey wouldnít like you watching that kind of movie." He felt a bit guilty at being the prude ó after all, it was only last week they were watching The Matrix with popcorn and Gummi Bears.

Shadow grimaced. "Youíre no fun anymore, Uncle Mikey." With a grunt, she began to change the channels up, going to 3, and then 4, and then 5.

Die Hard IV, at 8:30 in the morning? Stranger things have happened, but... oh.

"Wait... wait just a moment," Mike began. He felt something unsettling in his stomach, and he was fairly confident it wasnít just his breakfast. "That... that was CBS."

"That wasnít a movie?" Shadow shook her head. "Now youíre playing games with me, Mikey."

"Turn it back, please, sweetie."

A lone reporter, frantic, appeared on a hillside, the cityscape of Manhattan sprawled out behind him. Smoke continued to billow out of the building Mike had seen struck several seconds earlier before the screen flashed back to the earlier scene of the object hitting the building. It seemed more clearly defined as the shot went in slow-motion this time.

Good lord... thatís a plane!

" ó once again, this reporter still canít believe what heís seeing, but as we await official confirmation, weíve apparently just seen in front of us appears to be passenger jet American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston... crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center."

Michaelangeloís eyes widened with disbelief. "Oh my god..."

 

EARLIER. . .

7:24 AM

"Damn it!"

"Hey, Raph, ease up. Itís just a ó"

"I will not ease up!"

With that exclamation, Raphael threw down the controller of his X-Box with vehemence. His brow furrowed in anger, he jabbed an accusing finger at Donatello, who held the opposing controller during their game of Dead or Alive 3. "You cheated! You fucking cheated like you always do!"

Don gave Raph his best baffled expression for the simple fact that he truly was baffled this time. Raph getting ticked about things he really had no place getting ticked about was nothing new to Don or any of the others... but that didnít make putting out the flames of his anger any easier. "Look," Don spoke, "Iím not even sure how one would even go about cheating in this game... let it go, man."

Raphael stormed up from the sofa to be directly in Donís face, swatting the controller out of his hands and giving him a shove. "I will not let it go... not this time, not ever again!"

"Hey, I ó "

Raph gave him another shove, this one harder than the last. "You think youíre bad ícause you play video games all day? Because youíre glued to the internet all day? You, the badass computer geek? Huh, Donny? Is that it?"

Don threw his hands up in exasperation. "I told you, I ó "

Leonardo burst in from Splinterís meditation chamber, none too pleased about what he had heard so far. "All right, just what the hell is going on in here?"

The two brothers each seemed to indicate the other, citing their own reasons for the conflict.

Leo shook his head. "I donít want to hear about it, guys. You guys are damn near twenty-four years old... do you realize that, Raphael?"

"Oh, I gettit." Raphael gave a chuckle. "There your ass goes again, singling me out. I shoulda seen that coming, shouldnít I have?"

"Youíre still my best friend, but contrary to popular belief, bro..." came a familiar voice. Michaelangelo popped his head out from Splinterís meditation chamber just behind Leo. "... the world still doesnít revolve around you, Raph."

"Ooh, thatís it... thatís it..." Raphael nudged his way past Don and stormed his way to the exit of their Westwood Cemetery den. "Iím so freaking outro, brothers. You can rot in this cemetery for all I care and Iíll just catch you guys you guys on the flip side, okay? Good!"

"Raph, wait..."

But it was too late. Throwing on his now-trademark trench coat and Humphrey Bogart-esque hat at the same time he hurled a nearby empty Miller beer bottle at the wall, Raphael disappeared into the darkness of the entryway of the crypt theyíd come to call home. The sound of shattering glass signified his exit.

"Damn!" Donatello shouted, giving the X-Box controller a resounding kick with his foot. "He does this every time..."

Michaelangelo buried his face in his hands, shaking his head. "Itís not the first time, Donny... and it wonít be the last."

Leonardo only shook his head.

The soft sound of wood against concrete could be heard in short intervals, one after other, until Splinter limped his way from his bedchamber. He paused for a moment, his wizened gaze passing across the three remaining Turtlesí faces. "So soon after our defeat of the Lady Shredder... so soon after we have vanquished all of the enemies before us that we look to one another to make new enemies." Splinter gave a deep, heartfelt sigh. "I expected more, my sons... so much more."

"Iím sorry, Master Splinter," Leo spoke, bowing to his sensei. "But Raphael... you understand..."

As Splinter retreated back to his bedchamber, Donatello found himself throwing on some sweat pants and a sweatshirt ó some fresh air would decidedly do him good, and he thought he knew just the place to go.

"Youíre heading out also, Donny?" Mike asked.

Don gave a nod. "Yeah... but just to get some fresh, morning air, you know?"

"I hear you." Mike let a short sigh and started for his coat. "Maybe Iíll see what April and Casey are up to... check up on Shadow."

As the other Turtles left, Leonardo was left alone in the mausoleum lair. Not saying a word, Leo clenched his hand into a fist, feeling the anger welling within him, building, growing.

No, he thought to himself, Iím better than this... stronger. I have to be, for all of us.

Quietly, he headed further into the lair to better collect his thoughts. There was much to meditate on this morning.

 

8:39 AM

Wearing the best he could find toward something resembling a janitorial jumpsuit, complete with soiled boots, a beanie, and a glue-on beard, Donatello managed to slip his way into the south tower of the 1,368 foot tall World Trade Center. He moved just past the main reception.

Don had never actually known where Chang Lao worked, never wanting to pry. This forced him to break into his friendís briefcase and dig out his office address. He was sure the kid wouldnít mind, not if as much was at stake as he had made it sound like an hour earlier.

Moving nonchalantly so as not to appear out of place, he made his way to a maintenance door, double-checked to make sure the coast was clear ó his disguise would hold up on a glance, but a closer look and he would be madeóand ventured in. A flight of stairs were in front of him.

"Stairs it is," Don said with a sigh, beginning up. "Damn, Lao... why is it you have to work on the seventy-ninth floor?"

Grudgingly, but none the less determined, Donatello continued up the stairs. Best case, he could be in Laoís office within ten minutes, leave the briefcase with Laoís secretary ó Don figured anybody whoís anybody in this place has probably got one ó along with a message illustrating the urgency in which he should get it, and be out with a quickness.

As he made it to something like the fifty-fourth floor, his footing abruptly gave way. Before he could wonder if heíd slipped or had tripped over something, a thunderous quaking and almost deafening thunderclap hit him like a ton of bricks.

"What in the..."

As the sensation passed, Donatello gathered himself and got back to his feet. Peering out the nearby window, at first all he could see was a thick blanket of the blackest smoke he could imagine, wafting away from view. A gigantic hole had been torn into the side of the North Tower, red embers burning like pyres within its expanse, smoke continuing to billow out.

He felt his knees getting weaker as he continued to view, but he was unable to look away. "God help us all..."

 

8:51 AM

Leo was in front of the television with Splinter when he got the call.

Caller ID indicated it was Donatello. Flipping it open, he spoke, "Don, where are you?"

"Leo? Can you hear me?"

"Yes, I can here you fine... where are you?"

"I can barely hear you, Leo... if you can hear me, Iím in the South Tower of the World Trade Center... something terrible has just happened to the Nor ó "

"I know, Don, Iím watching it on television with Splinter. God, youíre right there next to it in the South Tower?"

"I came here to return something to Chang Lao when this happened... I think Iíll be all right, Iím just going to go grab him, make sure heís okay and make my way back down ó "

"You listen to me, you get the hell out of there and you get the hell out of there right now, Donatello!" Leonardo shouted into the phone. "We donít know whatís going on yet and ó"

"I still can barely hear you, Leo... itís very crazy here, Iím pretty sure weíre being evacuated... Iíll call you when I ó "

With that, the phone call abruptly ended, the line dead.

"Don? Don?!" exclaimed. Upon an immediate redial of Donís number, Leo was greeted only with Donís voicemail. "Damn it!"

A knowing look was exchanged between Splinter and Leonardo, between master and protťgť. "Go to him, my son," Splinter rasped. "Do what you must."

He didnít need to be told twice. Quickly bowing, he began rounding up his things.

 

9:03 AM

"Shadow!"

Casey Jones and April OíNeil, Casey first, burst into their apartment. Exasperatingly, they rushed to where Shadow and Michaelangelo were sitting in shock in front of the television set.

Casey took his daughter in his arms and hoisted her above him, smiling in relief. "Thank god youíre all right... I heard about what happened, I donít know whatís going on... some kind of a terrorist attack, nobody knows anything."

"I saw it on the news," Mike spoke. "I-I donít know whatís happening... something like this has never happened before... who on Earth could..."

"The President hasnít said a wordónot yetóbut itís got to be terrorists, Mikey," April said. "al-Quaida is a name that keeps coming up, and a guy named Osama Bin Ladin."

"You heard her, Mikey?" Casey roared. "You get in touch with Raphael, you tell him if he has any buddies left in the Foot Clan ó any buddies at all ó you have them put an APB out on that motherfucker pronto, I donít care where he is, you understand? Do you understand?"

April put an arm over him. "Take it easy, honey. Easy."

Casey shook her arm off, grunting and stalking toward the bathroom.

Mike shook his head helplessly. He and his brothers had fought countless foes against all odds ó the Foot Clan, the Triceraton Empire, Warlord Go-Komodo, cyborgs, fellow mutants, vampires, ninjas, monsters, and even mythical Norse demons... he simply didnít know what to make of a such a cowardly, faceless foe that would strike in such a manner. It just didnít compute.

" ó and all signs seem to point to this being a... a... oh my..."

On the television, the reporter cut himself off and the scene quickly panned to the left to the other tower that had been left untouched, the South Tower. An fiery explosion of more smoke and debris plumes out from what appeared to be a new impact on this building.

"A second plane has just collided, this time with the South Tower! Repeat, a second plane has just collided with the South Tower! Both buildings can now be seen in flames... oh lord, oh lord..."

The apartment grew deadly silent as all watched in shock. America was under attack, there could be no question any longer.

Michaelangelo was startled from his reverie only by his cell phone. It was Leonardo.

 

11:17 AM

By the time Leonardo, Raphael, and Michaelangelo arrived at the scene both the South and North towers had collapsed on themselves, blanketing much of the entirety of New York City in a veil of white smoke. Potentially thousands of innocent people were inside the towers when they went down, potentially hundreds of firemen and police.

Best not to think of that now, Leonardo felt in his heart.

Their nostrils burned with the acrid, almost chemical smoke the air was so rife with. It was hard to breathe, hard to see, hard to move through the rubble, but the Turtles persevered.

For hours the Turtles, under the cover of the smoke, worked beside firemen and relief workers in sifting through the rubble for survivors. For these hours they worked tirelessly, even after their muscles turned to jelly and their hands became scratched and bleeding.

"I donít know what the hell kind of creature you are," a fireman spoke to Raphael at one point after he had helped a woman with a broken leg to safety, "but I want to thank you."

Raph, his entire body covered with white soot aside from his now-red eyes like his brothers, measured the manís gaze and returned it. At this point, with everything that had happened today, he couldnít care less if anyone saw he was anything other than human. "Iím the kind of creature that loves New York. Thatís all."

"Fair enough, friend," the fireman spoke. "Fair enough." With that, he left him.

It wasnít until the smoke began to dissipate enough that they could no longer reliably hide themselves amidst its cover and teams from the Center of Disease Control arrived in great numbers to secure the scene that the Turtles had simply no choice but to retreat to a nearby alley.

As Michaelangelo and Raphael huddled together in the darkness near a trio of homeless men and women behind a dumpster, Leonardo kept watch in the front, resting on his knees. His eyes burned, but he dare not close them.

Giving only a short glance back at his two brothers, Leonardo knew that even without saying a word, they had all arrived at the same conclusion.

If Donatello had truly been in the South Tower there was no chance he would have survived.

The three Turtles had lost a brother. The sooner they would accept that hard fact, Leonardo knew, the easier it would be on all of them.

In one fluid motion, still kneeling Leonardo slipped one of his katana swords from its sheath, whipped it around and up, and then drove it angrily down into the concrete at his knees. Letting it rest in the concrete, he cupped the base of it with both hands, resting his forehead on it.

"My brothers..."

All three Turtles heard the voice and raised their heads slowly, not wanting to get their hopes up on a whim.

It was Donatello, moving with great difficulty through what was left of the cover of the smoke toward. Bruises covered his already-soot blackened skin, dried blood was caked over his face and body, and he walked with a limp. In his arms he carried, with some effort, what appeared to be a body. As he grew near, one by one the Turtles recognized who it was.

Don carried with him the lifeless body of Chang Lao.

"I tried..." Don cracked, "my brothers, god help me, I tried..."

As his brothers rushed to embrace him, a deluge of tears streaked down both of Donatelloís cheeks as he began to cry openly, as if he had been holding them in for some time.

 

7:46 PM

Leonardo stood still on the rooftop with his brothers as night began to fall, all of them silent with their thoughts, their bandannas removed. Leo stood, stoic, almost statuesque in his posture and demeanor as he gazed across the smoke-filled cityscape, his reddened eyes settling on the Ground Zero a block away as the mounting rescue effort continued to pick up momentum.

What could he say? What was he supposed to thinkówhat were any of them supposed to think?

There were no words, simply no words.

Leo felt the eyes of his brothers on him from behind but his gaze was unflinching, unwavering in its intensity. He was supposed to be the leader, the role model, the pillar from which they were to draw their strength in the absence of Splinter...

... and Splinter wasnít going to be there forever.

From elsewhere on the rooftop, Michaelangelo consoled Donatello, both Turtles weeping bitterly. After embracing each other for a long moment, Mike decided to try and approach Raphael. He found his best friend sitting quietly on the opposite end, slowly, somberly twirling a sai in one hand. Mike took a seat beside him. When Mike realized his brotherís face was soaked with tears he was taken aback, but soon put his arm over his back.

He had never seen Raphael shed a tear in his entire life. Nobody had.

"I-Iím... Iím not crying from my own grief, Mikey... not today..." Raphael spoke solemnly, glancing over at Leonardo before quickly looking away, "I-Iím crying... because he wonít."

Michaelangelo gave his brotherís shoulder a gentle squeeze before moving away. "Itís all right, Raph... itís okay."

Hearing what his brothers had just said but saying nothing to acknowledge it, Leonardo turned from his observation of the chaos and busywork going on in Ground Zero óthe firemen, the medic teams, the police, members of the National Guard ó and walked past his brothers towards the fire escape. One by one the four Turtles began their descent.

The world, society... they might never welcome Leonardo and his brothers with open arms ó none of them had any delusions about this. But after today, Leonardo felt, he had come to the realization that maybe ó just maybe ó this city and its people were not so different from them after all. They had a place in it as much as anyone, even if their role and skin color was different.

There was, after all, always hope... and that was enough.

One day. One day...

"Itís our city, too, my brothers," Leonardo spoke determinedly, his voice as stern as it was resolute. "Never forget that."

And they never would.

 


 

"The key to our success as a city, the reason we are the most famous city in the world, and the reason why we really legitimately are the capital of the world, is really just one thing: immigration.

"We have never been afraid of people. Weíve never been afraid of people no matter what their color, religion, ethnic background. Weíre a city in which our diversity is our greatest strength.

"And keeping ourselves open to people.

"It doesnít matter if you came here rich or poor, if you came here voluntarily or involuntarily, if you came here in freedom or in bondage. All that matters is that you embrace America and understand its ideals and what itís all about.

"Abraham Lincoln used to say that the test of your Americanism was not your family tree; the test of your Americanism was how much you believed in America. Because weíre like a religion really. A secular religion. We believe in ideas and ideals. Weíre not one race, weíre many; weíre not one ethnic group, weíre everyone; weíre not one language, weíre all of these people.

"So what ties us together? Weíre tied together by our belief in political democracy. Weíre tied together by our belief in religious freedom. Weíre tied together by our belief in capitalism, a free economy where people make their own choices about the spending of their money. Weíre tied together because we respect human life. Weíre tied together because we respect the rule of law. Those are the group of ideas that make us Americans."

- Mayor R. Giulianiís Farewell Address, Dec. 21, 2001

 

 


 

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