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Repost from GlobalAtlanta.com
During a commemorative address at theWorld Trade Center Atlanta, Andrew Young called upon Americans to face the world’s challenges with the same spirit as the “first responders” did to the 9/11 attacks.
“Just as the first responders did not let down the city of New York and our nation, somehow we have to turn ourselves into a nation of first responders that will take on whatever challenges the world might have.” said Mr. Young, a former Atlanta mayor and former chairman of the city’s trade center.
A pastor and businessman as well as a former diplomat and politician, Mr. Young addressed a Sept. 12 luncheon attended by more than 120 guests with a speech that fluctuated between a sermon and a history lecture.
He challenged Atlantans specifically to better understand the forces shaping historical events instead of merely celebrating the heroic actions that took place in the face of the attacks.
Even the best intentioned efforts, however, may not be enough, he acknowledged, referring to the extensive efforts made by the city in preparation of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games that did not prevent the Centennial Park explosion.
Yet, not to be aware of “the signs of the times” is to invite disaster, he said.
In reference to the sort of global awareness that he hoped to inspire, he cited the British economistJohn Maynard Keynes’ book, “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,” which was published in 1919 and forecasted future calamity if the U.S. and Britain remained isolationist.
Despite the warning, the U.S. did remain isolationist prior to the outbreak of World War II and the world suffered the consequences, he said, with more than 65 million deaths incurred before it was over. “We didn’t see the signs of the times,” he added, “and we didn’t listen to a vision of world peace.”
If the world was interdependent then, it is even more so now, making a leadership role globally even more important as a bulwark against “the forces of chaos and destruction,” he said. He pointed to the financial concerns surrounding Greece‘s sovereign debt problems as an example of how interconnected the world’s crises have become.
While returning several times to his theme that Atlanta’s trade center and the city more generally embodied the values of trade, human rights, economic development and cultural and educational exchanges, he added that to ignore these values would have disastrous consequences.
“America must never rest on its laurels,” he said, adding that the world “is depending on us for a peaceful vision that shares prosperity.”
That vision, he added, should be a mix of the values of U.S. historic figures Thomas Jefferson andAlexander Hamilton. He cited the Declaration of Independence’s support of the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and Mr. Hamilton’s support of a strong, national economy.
As an underlying theme, he added civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Further elaborating on this theme, he cited former President Carter’s negotiations with Panama over the Panama Canal and how Georgia eventually should benefit from the increased traffic expected to pass through the canal that is being enlarged.
“We do well when we negotiate,” he added, in comparison to our poor relations with Cuba, Iran,North Korea, Somalia and Zimbabwe where we don’t.
Other speakers at the event commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 were John Parkerson, president of the WTCA; Candace Byrd, Mayor Kasim Reed‘s chief of staff; Sharlene Bowen, a flight attendant on Delta 15 that on 9/11 was forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland and Craig Lesser, chairman of the WTCA, who introduced Mr. Young.