"...sudden burst of sunshine seemed to illuminate the Statue of Liberty, so that he saw it in a new light, although he had sighted it long before. The arm with the sword rose up as if newly stretched aloft, and round the figure blew the free winds of heaven."
OK, so Franz Kafka was wrong about the sword but the symbolism of arriving in America is so often written that we forget why so many arrived there. Today we seem only to hear the shrill, snide, judging voices of anti-American sentiment. And we forget. We forget that - almost uniquely - the USA was founded on the principle of freedom. On the idea that government has no right to rule. That rulers must act with the consent of the ruled. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are not merely the founding documents of the United States but represent a voice of liberty - symbolised by that statue - that echoes today.
Yet so many continue to condemn the USA. To cry foul at its every act. To point at its flaws and failings. To focus on its mistakes - or rather on the mistakes of its rulers. And they are wrong to condemn a whole nation - to claim that the aim of expanding liberty and freedom bequeathed to US government by John F Kennedy is somehow an evil force in the world. The United States remains a force for good - for all its errors a beacon of liberty in a world where too many still believe the state exists other than with the permission of the people, who want some role for priests in government and who prefer the disposition of bureaucracy to the choices of free men.
Today we remember a terrible attack on America. An act supposedly committed in the promotion of god's rule on earth. An act that chose terror over conversation, murder over persuasion. An unforgivable and inexcusable act that saw thousands killed without reason and, in a cry of collective pain, led Americans to acquiesce to a set of military adventures - some with good reason and some without. But the deaths the anti-Americans point to were not caused by America - they are the direct result of that unwarranted, that evil attack on New York and Washington in September 2001.
And that attack was an attack on liberty. On the ideas that founded the USA. On the principle of inalienable rights. And on the power of choice in the world of men. It was as much an attack on Bradford, on Paris and on Islamabad as it was an attack on the USA.
I will not forget. I will always remember the stunned silence in the room as we watched - over and over again - those planes crash into the twin towers. The images of smoke, fire, chaos and confusion will never go away. Nor will the quiet heroism of ordinary men and women faced with such an act of evil.
The United States of America is a great country - its very act of foundation brought more good to the world than the sum of its sins since that date. And the power of freedom and choice allowed the USA to lead man's advance to greater wealth, happiness and health. I am - and you should be - grateful not envious. Appreciative not condemnatory. Thankful not fearful.
Long live America!