The ancient Chinese curse supposedly says “May you live in interesting times”. I have long believed that we live in the most interesting times in human history and am usually glad of it. We live in a truly astonishing era, there are people alive in the United States, perhaps even one or two of you, who remember when the primary form of personal transportation was the horse and lighting was by kerosene lamps. Today we have our Studebakers (with a lot more than one horsepower!), reliable electricity, cheap food, the best medical care in the world, and the modern media which helps keep us informed (or misinformed) about it all. Amazing times.

Much of this was brought about by our country, and even things we didn’t invent we have developed far beyond what the inventors could have imagined. What would Mr. Babbage, who invented the “analytical engine”, the first primitive mechanical computer, think of the little IBM ThinkPad that I’m using to write this? What would Otto Benz, widely credited with inventing the automobile, think of an Avanti or a Champ or even the new Thunderbird? The past century brought about an explosion in technological development that is absolutely breathtaking and without precedent.

There are people who are not happy about the developments of the past century, people who want their parts of the world to run strictly according to the rules that they believe in. People who do not share our values and consider words like “freedom” and “liberty” to be obscenities. People who hate our country because we DO promote freedom, liberty, and a kind of economic system that has worked spectacularly well. People like that are, in the opinion of this writer, evil. It is evil that brought about the attacks of September 11. These people want to deprive us of our way of life, of freedom and hope. They want to bring the rest of the world down to their level.

Anyone who is much younger than 70 had no idea how it felt when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Now we do, 9.11.01 is burned into our conciseness as surely as December 7, 1941 was to earlier generations, and we got to see it live on television. The creatures who committed this act of barbarism, and barbarism it certainly was, expected us to cower, to pull back in shock and hurt. That hasn’t happened, that will not happen. Like that Japanese when they attacked us in 1941 the terrorists have no idea what they were starting. They will find out, and they will not like it.

A few weeks ago I went to a wedding. Not my favorite thing to do, but these were special friends and it was important that I go. The wedding was held at a beautiful Episcopal church, that looks like a church is supposed to look. After the wedding the bride and groom were whisked off to the reception in a Packard limousine. The reception was held at the Governors Club in Chapel Hill, a very upscale kind of place. At one point during the evening I joined some friends on the porch outside the ballroom. Behind us, through the large windows you could see the party going on, people dancing, drinking, laughing, and generally having a wonderful time (the dinner was excellent too, and the chocolate “grooms cake” was a work of art). The view from the porch was of a golf course and a large pond, with swans gliding back and forth. Overhead the stars were bright and there were quite a few planes heading in and out of Raleigh-Durham Airport. It was a beautiful evening in North Carolina, with free people enjoying themselves and going about their lives.

I wonder how Osama Bin Laden enjoyed spending that Saturday night under his rock waiting for us to come and kill him?

Enjoy being what Bin Laden and his cronies hate the most. Enjoy being a free American. Eat well, perhaps some port chops or barbecue, fly off somewhere on a plane if you like, and of course take that Stude for a drive!

*First published in the “Tarheel Wheel”, official publication of the North Carolina Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club, November, 2001