A Medal of Honor–winner is emblematic of American greatness

In the immediate wake of the jihadist attack against America on September 11, 2001, most Americans came together with a sense of unity and a desire for revenge.  Only a handful of people — Michael Moore, Ward Churchill, and Obama's Rev. Wright — came out of the box with insults against America.  Soon, though, Americans took two very different paths.  On the conservative side were those who stood up for America; on the leftist side were those who attacked America.  On this year's 9/11, we can clearly see the binary choice Americans have going forward.

As part of the White House's September 11 ceremonies, President Trump presented the Medal of Honor to Army sergeant major Thomas "Patrick" Payne, who was 17 when he watched the Twin Towers collapse.  When you read about Payne's life choices, even before he engaged in the acts that led to the Medal of Honor, you realize that he is one of America's best:

Payne has served 17 deployments and now serves at the U.S. Army special Operations Command as a training instructor. He was first wounded in Iraq when a grenade shattered his knee in 2010. While he went home to make a full recovery, he returned to service and carried out the rescue that earned him the Medal of Honor in 2015.

"There comes a time when sympathy is over," Payne said when returning to service, according to the Army. "It's time to get to work and get back out there."


Payne credits his decision [to] enter the military to watching the 9/11 terrorist attacks take place while sitting in his childhood school. He says he chose the Army after watching an ESPN segment on the annual Army's Best Ranger Competition when he was 17.

On October 22, 2015, Payne's team received a mission: "rescue over 70 Iraqi hostages being held by ISIS in a prison compound[.]"  The hostages he rescued were trapped in a burning building, and some of the ISIS fighters were setting off suicide vests.  To reach the prisoners, Payne had to cut through two locks while taking enemy fire and enveloped in suffocating smoke.  Payne then ran into the burning building three times to liberate all the prisoners, while still taking enemy fire.  (You can see the official battle sketch here.)

Master Sergent Payne exemplifies one of the choices that many Americans made after 9/11.  This choice has nothing to do with whether the wars we fought were, in 20/20 hindsight, good wars or bad wars.  Instead, in Master Sergeant Payne's case, it had to do with a decision to push to be the best possible version of himself and to face real danger, not just the mean words that the left construes as violence.

For the rest of us who followed this path, it meant doubling down on our commitment to what makes America great and distinguishes it from the ideology that killed almost 3,000 people 19 years ago.  We must double down on our commitment to a constitutional government; to the individual liberties delineated in the Bill of Rights; to the free market; and to a belief in cultivating a morality that requires us to treat with kindness and respect all people (except for those who want to kill us) regardless of race, creed, country of origin, sex, or sexual orientation.

Some Americans opted for a different path — the victim path.  These are the people who embrace the idea that America is an irredeemably evil nation that needs to be destroyed and rebuilt in a Marxist mold.  These people all have their roots in academia, and they've spent forty years using race-hatred to teach America's college and high school graduates that they must destroy America.

The fruits of academia's labors have spread far beyond college campuses.  Over four decades, they've infected journalism, entertainment, K–12 education, and even corporate America.  We see these fruits in the spoiled rich kids who use Stalin and Trotsky to justify trashing New York streets and attacking police.  We also see them in the nihilistic Marxist Antifa fighters in Portland and Seattle.  And sometimes they show up in an airplane aisle, as with this woman, who believes that she is now the queen of the world:

The problem is not her race, but her attitude, one that sees America as a tribal place and hers as the ascendant and tyrannical tribe.

With the 2020 election looming, the two Americas that 9/11 created have never been more apparent.  They cannot coexist indefinitely.  One must prevail.  When you walk into the voting booth on November 3, think long and hard about which America you'd like to have emerge victorious.  Will America be the Republican version, which is a nation defined by courage and generosity unrelated to race, or will it be the Democrat version, which is a place of victimhood and brutal tribalization?

Image: Sergeant Major Thomas P. Payne.  Public domain.

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com