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the better angels of our nature

by John DiJoseph, Ph.D.*

Columbia, MD_August 28, 2007__ Had George W. Bush asked himself that question following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, might he have acted differently? Lincoln left wise counsel for future presidents.

The crisis facing Lincoln as he entered office has parallels to that facing President George W. Bush following 9/11. The United States was facing a great war over which the country was strongly divided—a war that would result in death and destruction on a massive scale and tear asunder the very fabric of this nation. Two weeks before Lincoln strode to the podium on March 4, 1861, to address the nation, Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated President of the Confederate States of America. Such was the climate of discord in the nation that Lincoln had to travel to Washington by a secret route under guard of the U.S. Army, but refusing advice of security forces, he rode in an open carriage with President James Buchanan to the Capitol to make his enduring Inaugural address.

In this moment of crisis, Lincoln urged:

“My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject [of impending war]. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it . . . . Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty”

Lincoln closed by reminding Americans of their compassionate heritage:

“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature”

The speech represents the depth of Lincoln’s moral perspective. What might be our situation today, on the anniversary of 9/11, if Lincoln had been president? Would he have once again called on the “better angels of our nature” to guide our actions? Would that have led us down a different path?

In “Angels Over America,” the 9/11 memorial poem and DVD commemorating heroes and victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Carolyn Long reaffirms Lincoln’s appeal to our “better angels” .  .  .

“Help the angels of our better natures rise to freedom’s song/And lead the charge of justice on her path,

So our own avenging angels do not strike in blind revenge/And wreak unbridled ruin with their wrath”

© Carolyn K. Long, 2001

“Angels Over America” reminds us that a horrific crisis can be an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to cherished values, and that as Americans, we have the power of choice.

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* John DiJoseph, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Loyola University in Maryland; author of Jacques Maritain and the Moral Foundation of Democracy, Rowman & Littlefield Pub., Inc., 1996.

The “Angels Over America,” poem and video can be viewed or downloaded from the website The video  on DVD, a laminated poster or printed copy of “Angels Over America” are available online from the website or by email from  Carolyn K. Long , author of “Angels Over America” and co-producer of the 9/11 memorial video of that name, is a professional speaker, consultant, writer and photographer, based in Columbia, MD.

Columbia, MD, September 2006 . . . By all accounts, the ranks of terrorists have expanded dramatically since 9/11, validating the prediction of some terrorism experts that a course of revenge and punishment would create more terror and danger throughout the world.

“In the aftermath of 9/11, U.S. foreign policy has fueled the appeals of terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden to fight western culture in all its forms for the sake of preserving a traditional Islamic culture,” says terrorism expert and author Dr. John DiJoseph. He explains that “terrorism is a form of noble cause corruption; the terrorist kills for what he perceives to be a noble cause, in this case, Islam and the oppressed Arab masses.”

“In the aftermath of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called on the nation to recall ‘the better angels of our nature.’ We might call on them again to help shift the tide of hatred from American shores,” observes DiJoseph, “by increasing humanitarian efforts to innocent civilians injured in war areas, and by using our vast media resources to appeal directly to the Arab masses with popular music and other forms of entertainment emphasizing the positive aspects of western culture, and teaching core western values of freedom with responsibility and democracy. We must become the embodiment of a noble cause to fight their perceived one.”

By following our “avenging angels” in lieu of our “better angels,” DiJoseph notes that we have set the stage for the potential of “unbridled ruin,” as described in the 9/11 Memorial Poem, Angels Over America, by Carolyn Long:

“Help the angels of our better natures rise to freedom’s song

And lead the charge of justice on her path,

So our own avenging angels do not strike in blind revenge

And wreak unbridled ruin with their wrath.”

Both the poem and the 9/11 Memorial video Angels Over America created from the poem by award-winning arranger and producer Mark Freeh can be viewed or purchased from the website, or by contacting Carolyn Long at

Carolyn K. Long, author of “Angels Over America” and co-producer of the 9/11 memorial video of that name, is a professional speaker, consultant, writer and photographer, based in Columbia, MD.

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The events of 911 will be a part of the American consciousness forever.

How they are held there will shape our future.

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