The following was published on WorldNetDaily on Wednesday, January 24, 2001. It is by a young aspiring journalist who I hope can continue in her profession as we need more people like her.

© 2001

Editors note: Amy Stanford is a 17-year-old home-schooled senior who lives near Austin, Texas. She has a strong interest in journalism as a career.

What great men dared to choose
Small men dare neither to win
Nor lose.
--Archibald MacLeish, "Brave New World"

In a far away land that is surprisingly nearer than you thought, there is a fortress disguised as a palace, a barricade as a courtyard. It was built by a very brave and radical people who would have rather died than suffer under the cruel heel of tyranny any longer. And thousands did sacrifice their lives -- men, women, and children -- to build this haven of safety and freedom.

After much labor, sweat, blood and tears, the beautifully hewn stones and carved pillars were erected to an impenetrable height. It was not a flimsy, impromptu affair, but a structure designed to last for centuries to come. The foundation was solid, the walls strong. The people who built it realized the Fortress would be constantly under attack, and so they impressed upon their children the importance of ceaseless vigilance and prayer to make certain the walls would remain strong.

This people's story is an inspiring one, and no doubt you have heard bits and pieces of it, although it is not as widely told and celebrated as it once was. But I am not here to tell what has gone before. I am going to tell you what must yet come.

Now something must be understood: Many battles were and are being fought for the Fortress. The individuals who died in these battles did not die for themselves, nor for their children, nor even for the Fortress. These soldiers died once, their mothers, wives, sweethearts and sisters died many times over, for a dream, for an ideal, for Seven Personages who are as real as you and I, and who are the main characters of this story.

Some people class these seven entities with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, as myths. Nevertheless, they are living, breathing persons that have abode in the Fortress by invitation and by choice since its beginning. They could choose to leave at any time, yet they stay, for they have come to think of the Fortress as their home. Yes, these seven persons have names -- Liberty, Justice, Uncle Sam, History, Wisdom, Innocence, and Truth. Oh, yes. And the Eagle, the Protector of the Fortress. It and Uncle Sam cannot really be called individuals, neither can they exactly leave at any time. But they are both important and vital figures.

"Why would they want to leave such a secure place as you have just described anyway?" you may well ask. Many years have passed since the building of the Fortress. It is not the tower of security it once was. The Enemy, seeing that direct attack upon the massive structure was futile, resorted to craft and deceit. He fed the people of the Fortress false philosophies and subtle lies, causing them to gradually let down their guard. The Enemy ceased his violent attack upon the walls and let several generations pass without a battle, causing the people of the Fortress to further slip into a false sense of security and confidence. As the Enemy, overjoyed at his success, stepped up the flow of false teachings, the foundation of the Fortress began to crumble from neglect and the nibbling of the Enemy.

The Seven watched these events with despair, for the people began to reject their advice. Particularly Justice and Truth's. As the people became more and more corrupted with the Enemy's lies, Uncle Sam and the Eagle were also corrupted, for they were made up of the people.

And then the unthinkable began to happen. Slowly, without the people realizing it, the Enemy gained access to the very persons their ancestors had fought and died to protect. Only Truth saw him coming, easing, creeping, sneaking his way into the Fortress. She ran first to Liberty. "We are under attack! The Enemy is here, he will enslave as before!"

Liberty looked around in alarm. She didn't see any Enemy. Stroking her graying temples thoughtfully, she told Truth, "There is no one here, the people are still free."

Truth insisted, "He is here. I saw him walking among the people. They accept him. We are in danger."

"No doubt you think you saw someone, Truth, for you do not lie." Here Liberty laughed at the obviousness of the statement. "But we are safe in the Fortress, the Enemy cannot invade us."

"But he has--" Truth was cut off by a careless wave from Liberty's hand. Truth's forever-young face fell in disappointment and grief, and she walked slowly away.

A few minutes later, softly, quietly, the broken shackles at Liberty's feet were mended and gently replaced around her wrists. Her flaming torch dimmed slowly to a mere flicker of a candle. She looked up in surprise. There was no one but her six friends and the people of the Fortress. The Enemy had become so commonplace, almost a reassuring presence to the people, he blended in, he was invisible. Nobody would be able to see him coming. Nobody but Truth.

Liberty turned to Uncle Sam. "The Enemy is among us. I have been shackled again. Free me as you did before! He has taken away the people of the Fortress' freedom. Now he is able to destroy them!"

Uncle Sam snorted good-naturedly. He seemed much bigger than he ever had before, more powerful. "You've been listening to Truth. She's been telling everyone that the Enemy is right here in the Fortress. What nonsense. You are not shackled, Liberty, it is a figment of your imagination. Why, look at the people. They are just as free as they have ever been."

Liberty obediently examined the people. It was true, they seemed happy enough, working, playing, going to school. She brought her chained wrists up to her face to inspect the shackles. They were not too heavy. But little things here and there bothered her. She mentioned them to Uncle Sam. He laughed her off again, saying, "What? Would you have us destroy all laws? You know that without fairness, there is no real freedom. Everything is just fine."

Liberty protested, "That's just it. It's fairness, not justice, you are giving to the people."

Uncle Sam looked at her in confusion. "Is there a difference?"

"I ... don't know. I will ask Justice." Liberty walked away to find Justice. She was sitting alone on Court Terrace, facing the sunset. Liberty wondered why, as Justice's blindfold did not allow her to see it. Sometimes Liberty pitied her, never being able to take the blindfold off, but it was vital, Liberty knew.

Justice heard Liberty's footsteps and turned with a rather uncertain, but pleased smile. Her blindfold was gone. Liberty gasped, and ran closer. "Justice, your blindfold. ..." Then she noticed something else. "Your sword ... what happened to them?"

"He said it wasn't right that my eyes were covered. He said I needed to see if my judgment was fair. He took away my sword. He said it was too cruel, too intimidating, I shouldn't use it anymore. He gave me this to use instead." Justice held up a ridiculously little wooden spoon.

Liberty gazed at Justice in amazement. The Interpreter of the Law's eyes were a soft, sparkling blue. It was sad they had been hidden for so long. "Justice, who's 'he'?"

"Why, I don't really know. I heard this nice voice speaking to me, telling me why I needed to take my blindfold off. He took my sword, handed me this spoon, then took my blindfold. I could see, and nobody was there." Justice hesitated. "I heard also Truth's voice. She was warning me not to listen to him. She said he was the Enemy, but he seemed much too pleasant for that. After he took away my sword ... she spoke no more."

Justice's eyes fell to Liberty's wrists. "Why are you shackled, Liberty? I thought we were free."

Justice's na´vetÚ touched Liberty's heart, and she hastened to reassure her. "Oh, these are not serious. Just some little laws here and there that we need so we can be fair to everybody."

But Justice caught the uncertainty in her voice. "Fairness. ... I suppose it's all right. But Truth seemed so sure that it was the Enemy." Justice paused in thought. "Will I have to change my name to Fairness?"

Liberty turned this over in her mind. "I don't really know. Anyway, I came to ask you a question. Is there a difference between justice and fairness?"

Justice glanced down at the pair of scales in her hand. "Before I would measure them against each other in the scales, but now that I can see to judge for myself ... he said that I should."

"The man who took away your blindfold said that?"

"Yes. Perhaps he is right." Justice took a deep breath and tossed away her scales. "In that case, I see no difference between fairness and justice."

Liberty looked doubtful. "That seems OK, but now I remember Wisdom saying something about the difference between the two. Are you sure in your judgment?"

Justice sighed. "No, I am not. I just don't know. This is all so new to me. The man said to trust myself, but perhaps we should ask Wisdom after all."

"Yes, let's. I'm sure she will know."

And so the two women made their way to the Fortress' school and library where the younger people learned how to live life. But Liberty and Justice did not find Wisdom, instead they found an extremely attractive young man who looked like he was fresh out of college. He was teaching where Wisdom had once taught, but with a different theme. Liberty accosted him politely. "Excuse me, sir, where is Wisdom?"

The young man laughed derisively. "Wisdom? Who needs Wisdom? I am Knowledge. I am a better teacher than Wisdom, I have more power than her. She would teach these kids to follow stuffy, bigoted, hypocritical rules that would hinder them in their exploration of life. Wisdom is a useless old fool." Knowledge eyed Justice and her downcast expression. "Congratulations on being de-blindfolded. Now you have more power, more knowledge. Why are you not happy?"

Justice dropped her eyes shyly. "I ... I am, I suppose. It's just that, well, Liberty and I had a question."

Knowledge puffed out his chest and boasted, "Ask away. I know everything."

Liberty took a sudden strong disliking to Knowledge. "No. We will ask Wisdom. Where is she?"

Knowledge sneered, "She is gone; she will never show her face in this room again. And there's nothing you can do about it. You are chained."

Liberty glanced at her shackles in shame. Knowledge continued in an insolent tone. "I am sufficient to answer your question. Ask me."

Justice looked bewildered. Liberty hesitated, then walked resolutely off. Justice turned to follow, but Knowledge caught her by the wrist, speaking in a soft, silky voice. "Stay a little while and let me tell you more, Justice."

Justice jerked away, blushing, with her eyes down. "No ... no, I must go." And she hurried after Liberty.

When she caught up with her, Liberty was muttering angrily. "Who does he think he is? I need Wisdom, and I will find her. He cannot tell me what to do."

Justice asked pitifully, "What's wrong? Is the Enemy really in the Fortress? How did he get in? Where is Wisdom?"

"Hush, dear. I am thinking. I cannot do much to free the people of the Fortress now, but I can warn the others. We must find them."

Justice obediently fell silent, trotting behind Liberty's long strides. Soon they reached the Great Room, the meeting place of the Seven, and where a horrible spectacle met their eyes.

The Enemy was there to be seen plainly, holding a sword to History's throat as he whispered in her ear the lies he was forcing her to record. With a shock, Liberty recognized the sword as Justice's. Truth lay in a corner, bound and gagged with Justice's blindfold. Uncle Sam stood rigidly, his suspenders cut, and his pants around his ankles. His boxers were humiliatingly polka dotted. The Eagle was wheezing weakly and his once-noble feathers tattered and muddy. He dragged a broken wing beside him. The arrows that used to be so strongly clasped in his claw were broken and scattered about the room, and the olive branch was wilted and useless.

But by far, the worst of it all was Innocence. She was bruised and bleeding, sobbing hopelessly into Wisdom's lap. Wisdom stroked Innocence's fine, tangled hair with a wrinkled and shaking hand. Liberty and Justice walked slowly across the room to Wisdom and Innocence, and Liberty knelt down beside the old woman and the girl. Justice stood still, her eyes smoldering. Liberty asked gently of Wisdom, "What happened to her?"

Wisdom answered in a brittle tone, "Knowledge." Her voice broke, and tears fell on the golden head in her lap. "He raped her. My little Innocence."

Justice opened her mouth to proclaim furious judgment on the offender, but a raucous laugh startled her, and she whirled. The Enemy stood there, smirking at the Seven's sorrow and rage. "I am winning," he taunted. "The little people of the Fortress, they do not care. They welcome me with open arms! Your humiliation, your disgrace, it is my glory! You are beaten, give up the Fortress to me!"

There was silence broken only by Innocence's weeping. History watched, hoping, praying. She had come to the Fortress trusting that she would be able to record accurately and objectively the events of time. In other places, her arm had been twisted to put down facts that glorified wrongs and praised evil. Here she had been able to write with freedom and truth. Until now. She watched as her friends who had protected and encouraged her gave up hope one by one. Even Liberty's broad shoulders sagged. History's sharp eyes darted to Wisdom. She had faith in Wisdom. It was not unfounded.

"Do not despair totally. There is yet hope. If the people of the Fortress realize the danger, they will fight back and rescue us."

The Enemy snickered. "And who will tell them, old woman? You are all my prisoners, to do with as I please."

Wisdom glared at the Enemy with her faded blue eyes. "No, not all. You may shackle Liberty, you may take away Justice's power, you may mock me, you may destroy Innocence, you may distort History, but you cannot bind Truth. You cannot destroy or stop her. She will always be more powerful than you."

"Quiet, old woman! Cease your babbling!" The Enemy thundered. "It is not true. Truth is silenced!"

"Only by the misuse of Justice!" Wisdom turned to Justice, whose rage had subsided into a confused sullenness. "Go release Truth."

"No, stop! You are in my power." The Enemy's face was purple with fury. Justice hesitated.

"Go on, Justice, he cannot stop you." This was from Liberty, who had a new, but dim, light in her sad brown eyes. Justice walked to Truth, who had been watching alertly, knelt down beside her, and undid the bonds. The Enemy stomped and raged and threatened, but that was all. Truth stood very still, waiting for instructions from Wisdom.

"Go to the people of the Fortress, warn them about what is happening. It will not be easy. They are self-satisfied and comfortable. But you must succeed. The Fortress depends on it."

Truth had no trouble hearing Wisdom's soft words over the Enemy's roaring. But suddenly it ceased. He watched warily as Truth walked directly toward him. The Enemy seemed paralyzed as Truth boldly took Justice's sword from his very hand. She regarded him very much as one regards a mad dog. Truth turned to Wisdom, who still had Innocence crying into her lap. She knelt down and lightly kissed Innocence's head. "The hurt that has been done to you shall be avenged. I swear this."

Truth rose and approached Liberty. "Give me your torch. It is not as bright as it once was, but it will help light the darkness of the Enemy's lies so the people of the Fortress can see that they are no longer free."

Liberty gravely held out her torch. "God be with you."

Truth nodded, took the torch, and walked to stand before Uncle Sam who had not said a word. "You have believed a lie and shamed yourself and the Fortress in the eyes of the world. It has been so recorded by History. It is now my responsibility to regain the respect that the Fortress has lost by you."

The Enemy watched, still silent, as Truth knelt by the wounded Eagle. Stroking its head, she murmured comfortingly, "The Fortress' brave and unconquerable protector ... now conquered by its own people. I will persuade them that you should be healed and strengthened instead of broken down. Mend your arrows and pluck another olive branch, for you shall be strong again soon."

The Eagle cocked its still-proud head and followed Truth's movements with piercing eyes. She walked to the door of the Great Room, then turned. Her six friends, the Eagle, and the Enemy were watching her. In the six and the Eagle, she saw a quiet and patient hope. They had all suffered before. In the Enemy, she saw the small, shivering, worthless soul of a coward, masked by a cruel and tyrannic face that expressed a desire for them to suffer more. Truth raised her hand in farewell to her friends. "In God we trust."

Without looking back, she walked out the door and into the world of the people of the Fortress.

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