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When the iron curtain came down in 1989, America's role as the great proponent of freedom dramatically changed.

As the only super power, America and its concept of freedom were challenged on one international front after another. Sept. 11, 2001, and its aftermath in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought to focus America's idea of freedom and led to national soul searching concerning U.S. military activity in other lands.

Now, within America's borders, an escalating struggle is under way for the very soul of the nation, and the outcome of that struggle will determine whether America is still the land of hope and promise it was in its early days.

Many Americans believe that freedom means the right to make their own rules. Others feel threatened because they see the very fabric of the American society endangered by this self-centered concept of freedom.

The two foundational principles upon which this nation was founded are freedom and truth. Our forefathers envisioned a nation free from the restraints of the English Parliament and the Anglican Church. They established America as a land of freedom based upon Judeo-Christian principles. The settlers risked everything, even their lives, in order to carry out their vision of a nation founded upon a national covenant with their God, each other and their government.

In defining freedom, some choose to ignore the foundation of truth that was crucial to our founding fathers. But freedom without underlying truth is like a ship without a rudder and will lead to disastrous consequences.

America is at a crossroads, struggling to define freedom within its boundaries and throughout the world. The issues that America now faces are the same issues our forefathers addressed when they established this nation.

What are the limits of a central government? What are the rights of individuals? What are the standards that must guide our conduct? How may our leaders impose these standards on our citizens and other nations of the world?

These questions can never be answered unless we view them in a moral and spiritual context, and unless we revisit the rich heritage of our past. How we, as a nation, answer these questions will define the soul of this nation.

William Hunter is the author of "God's Covenant With America" (Brown Books, $18.95), which revisits America's history through the 19th century and addresses these intriguing issues.

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