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Victory in defense of freedom

| Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009

The history of the United States is one of victories in defense of freedom.

These moments include great military victories in the Revolutionary and Civil wars and World War II. Other victories include the march over Selma Bridge during the Civil Rights movement in 1965 and the rebellion aboard Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.

Many nations have histories of kings, conquerors and dominating rulers. Our history of successfully defending our liberty and constitutional democracy, even when things looked bleak, is unique. And one aspect of it is particularly striking.

Time and again average Americans have stood up under pressure to protect us. It is well documented that one advantage the American military had over both its German and Japanese opponents during World War II was a culture that enabled junior officers and troops to step to the plate and take command when needed.

When the captain was wounded, the lieutenant could always take command. When the lieutenant was shot, the sergeant knew what to do, and when the sergeant was gone, the corporal or private would pursue the mission. This ability to assume leadership and responsibility is a tribute to American military training but, more importantly, it is a characteristic of American culture.

To understand how deeply embedded this individual ability to stand up is in our culture, remember the story of Todd Beamer and the other 9/11 heroes on Flight 93. Did these Americans just sit there like sheep waiting for the slaughter• No, they used cell phones and air phones to discover what was happening to our country. When they realized that they were on the fourth plane to be hijacked and were heading toward Washington, D.C., they attacked the hijackers and came so close to re-taking the plane that the hijackers were forced to crash it into the ground screaming "Allahu akbar."

Nine days ago at Fort Hood, Texas, the world once again witnessed these strong characteristics. This time, police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a former U.S. Army soldier and mother of two children, responded to a report of a shooting.

Munley and her partner, Sgt. Mark Todd, were on the scene within minutes. Without backup, they confronted Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 Americans and wounding 30 others.

Hasan shot Munley three times. Despite her wounds, Munley returned fire, hitting Hasan and ending his bloody rampage.

Americans are proud of Munley for what the commander of Fort Hood called her "amazing and aggressive performance."

Yes, Munley is an amazing heroine. But our enemies should realize that there are millions more Americans just like her who stand ready to answer duty's call.

Todd Beamer and Kimberly Munley stand as reminders that Americans will continue to win the critical battles to preserve our freedom.

Glen Meakem was the founder, chairman and CEO of FreeMarkets Inc. He is co-founder and managing director of Meakem Becker Venture Capital in Pittsburgh.

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