Eyes on the prize

Reading Peggy Noonan’s weekly WSJ column almost always leaves me feeling better — her optimism, honesty and moral toughness shine through. From yesterday’s column:

This is what the American victory in Iraq is going to mean:

It is going to mean, first, that something good happened. This sounds small but is huge. The West has been depressed since Sept. 11, 2001. It has been torn, riven. It has been a difficult time. The coming victory is going to be the biggest good thing that has happened in the world, the West and the United States since the twin towers fell.

The deeper meaning there is that we are witnessing a triumph of activism over fatalism. Victory will remind the world that faith and effort trump ennui and despair. It will demonstrate to the civilized world that the good do not have to see themselves as at the inevitable mercy of barbarians. It will demonstrate that we are not part of a long and unstoppable slide, that we can move forward and win progress, that we don’t have to cower in blue suits behind the Security Council desk. We can straighten up, join together and make things better.

Soon this war will be over. It was hard getting there, hard doing it and there will no doubt be hard going. But it will be over, and we won’t come back from hell with empty hands. We will have won a great deal. In the next week and weeks it will be good to keep that in mind, and keep our eyes on the prize.

We have 2.7 million members of the active and reserve American armed forces today. The world owes a great deal to America, and America owes a great deal to them, and not only because of their courage but because of their faith in us. And they have faith in us, and in this place we all live in, this great country, or else they would never risk their lives for us. Which leaves us humbled, and wishing we could say to them what the world should be saying to the country they represent: Thank you.

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