I believe in America. I believe in a land of opportunity, a land of promise. I believe in a nation, to which one can belong not only by birth, but also by worth. I believe in the idealism of the Pilgrims who set to build a "city upon a hill". I believe in a people that values individual liberty above everything else. I believe in a value system that equates human dignity with a person's freedom and treasures life, liberty and not least the pursuit of happiness.
This is not to say that I believe in the government of America; that I agree with its domestic or foreign policy choices all the time (all the more so recently) and particularly its interventionism (although it is America's interventionism saved my country from being a province of the Third Reich or an impoverished satellite of Moscow and me from being a hungry serf).
But the terrorists of September 11, 2001 were not after America's government. They were after everything I cherish in America. The terrorists targeted places, where people of various ages, colors, nationalities, religions, mother tongues co-existed and worked together - pursuing their happiness, providing for their families - many of them had left their homes with a kiss and a hug from their loved ones and were anticipating a kiss and a hug when they would go back. All these people were the intended victims of an act which was done in the name of God (Allah) and a distorted version of religion that had produced an awesome civilization in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean sea, a civilization of science, wisdom, tolerance, and beauty. The proponents of this distorted version claim that God, through His Prophet, demands of them to be intolerant of the values of Western civilization or anything they do not accept as their own, for that matter. They do not see other human beings, they only see infidels and enemies - and they cannot stand the idea that the pursuit of happiness is anything less than a cardinal sin in our culture. This is exactly what the terrorists attacked: the notion that each person may pursue their happiness, rather than bow down to a regime run by fanatic priests who claim to relay orders from God.
I am not related or acquainted with any of the 3,000 and more victims of the attacks; I cannot begin to imagine the pain of their loved ones. But, with the utmost respect for the grieving families of those murdered that day - the terrorists attacked almost every aspect of our civilization that I treasure. So, for me as well, it became personal.