A Decade Later
In every generation, there is an event which shapes a nation; for our grandparents and great grandparents, it was Pearl Harbor. For our parents and grandparents, there was the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War. For us, and our children, it is September 11, 2001. A decade later, the impact from the twin towers falling stands taller than the buildings themselves once did. The world will never be the same, because on one tragic day 10 years ago, 19 mass murderers boarded jet air liners hell-bent on one mission; death. No matter their age, race, religion, gender, or morals, the terrorists craved the blood of innocent victims. Their crimes were the most degenerate public act since the Holocaust, and their acts changed the world just as profoundly. The legacy of 9/11 will live on forever, never to be forgotten by those affected, and always remembering those lost. Nothing can replace those lives which have been stolen, in the planes, in the targeted buildings, and in the subsequent wars, but for what it is worth, those lives have made a lasting impact on the world.
United Flight 93. Every citizen under the Stars and Stripes gets teary eyed when we hear those words. Those brave passengers provided us an illustration, as painful as it was powerful, that our people will not surrender to evil. My wife asked me once why we never see anything good on news; why is every story a bad one? I thought about that, and found myself grateful that was the case. When the bad things are reported, that implies that they are rare enough to be report worthy. Crime, corruption, and Washington gridlock are not constant events we must bear through. They are the exception, which is what makes them news. The day that I turn on my television and see news cast full of stories about one neighbor helping another will be a sad day. That is the day that doing the right thing will become the exception. Other nations live with murder so prevalent, it is nearly ignored. Thank our lucky Stars and Stripes that we still see a stranger offering to change a flat tire, a neighbor helping unload a moving truck, and even a man saving a child from drowning at the expense of his own life. This heroism is still alive in the Land of The Free. Flight 93 gave us the most gripping example. Americans are still good people, we will still do the right thing; we will not let terrorists commit murder. The Citizens of this nation will sacrifice their lives for that lives of others. A decade ago, faceless strangers aboard one of hundreds of ordinary flights fought the hatred which hijacked the plane. Because of their bravery and moral earnestness, an untold number of children were able to kiss their parents goodnight that evening, which otherwise would have been gone forever—like so many others—had that plane struck the unidentified intended target. The reason our military is full of stories about heroes is simple: our nation is also full of heroes.
For much of the last decade, the popular media has branded and beaten America as an imperial regime. As a good friend of mine, Chris Stewart, the author of The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points That Saved the World, points out; we have been labeled the bad guy, though we are the only nation who fights for the basic human rights and freedom of someone else. We have fought for the freedom of Europe twice, and the entire Pacific world once. No other country is willing to put their military on the line for a complete stranger. In North Korea and Cuba, mass starvation has been implemented for years to keep the population suppressed. In china, they are forcing abortions if you cannot pay a massive fee to have more than one child. Still in nations ruled by Islamic extremists a little girl is beaten for learning to read, and her older sister is put to death for being raped. Yet, somehow, spiting in the face of human rights and decency, the world looks passed that to make the one nation who will stand up for justice the proverbial bully? I understand the argument critics have, that we only step in to protect vital American interests while we let many other tragedies go unpunished, so we cannot be as noble and altruistic as I am suggesting. I agree; however, at least we do something. What more important American interests are there than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? The more widely those are guaranteed around the world, the more sure we are to retain them here at home. No other nation will fight to provide that cause for another. Whether or not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are right is an issue for another day. On this day, a decade later, we as Americans should be proud of the fact that our legacy, in the face of constant rage and terror, has been one of freedom, human rights, justice, sacrifice and selflessness. A decade later, we in the Home of the Brave can and should wave that banner.
When those planes began to hit their targets that tragically fateful morning, Bin Laden expected to see our nation shrink, the way we had in previous conflicts such as Mogadishu and Vietnam, and the U.S.S. Cole bombing. The Al Qaeda propaganda machine had been churning out stories of American cowardice. We were unable to retaliate against a faceless enemy, and unwilling to take on the challenge. The terrorists expected America to fall, but we rose majestically. The twin towers falling were supposed to tear us apart, but that infamous footage brought us together. A major attack on U.S. soil was supposed to cause our to nation retreat; instead, we stood more resolute than ever before.
The lives lost that day, and subsequently in the wars since can never be replaced, and will never be forgotten. For thousands of people there will always be an empty seat at the dinner table, a football jersey without its athlete, and a hole in their heart. Children will grow up with a photograph of a parent, and nothing more. This seems shallow and empty to many who still are coping with a dear loss, and rightfully so, but the sacrifice made by those who paid their lives, and the cause generated by those whose lives were stolen, has reached countless numbers, and will continue to ripple until the wave runs to the horizon. A decade later, because of that day we see two new developing democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Traveling abroad I have had the privilege of meeting thousands people native to Iraq, many as refugees. I made it a point to ask as many as possible what they think of America, and of the war. Never once, in countless responses, have I heard anything other than unpolluted praise. This is not the picture cable news channels will paint for their audience, yet many former servicemen will attest to this truth. The responses I heard often made President Bush seem more a savior than a commander in chief. Iraqis were finally optimistic that they would be able to return home, and know freedom. They repeatedly proclaimed that this was the best thing that could have happened to their country. In Afghanistan, when the Taliban regime fell, people could be seen dancing in the street while listening to music; both punishable offenses under the Taliban. Women were allowed to show their faces, and daughters were allowed to go to school for the first time in their lives. Whether we agree with these wars or not, we are hard pressed to find someone who believes the wars have made the citizens’ lives in those nations worse. We can question whether or not the wars were right, but we cannot question they were virtuous. Iraq and Afghanistan are hardly the only ones to see human rights and privileges increase. Many milestones have been taken to advance freedom, and check radical Islam. Islam in itself is a majestic and benevolent religion, and as the radical extremists begin to be scaled back, the world is beginning to see that. We see Libyan rebels overthrowing a dictatorship largely on their own; we are beginning to see the movement of rebellion in Syria, a nation historically friendly to terrorists and extremists. Iran recently allowed weapons inspectors access to full investigation of their nuclear facilities, which they have insisted over the past ten years are for energy purposes only. Nations like Pakistan are making steps toward a more democratic system. Pakistan is now providing enormous aid in the fight against Al Qaeda; even capturing and killing top operatives in recent weeks. Recently the military in Yemen attempted to bomb a terrorist camp. Eyes, the world over have been opened, lives the world over have been changed for the better. Both presidents and both administrations deserve equal credit for these landmark accomplishments, thought nearly impossible ten years ago.
In the years following our nation’s devastation, we have seen the heroes Old Glory can produce. From Pat Tillman to Marcus Luttrell; from the FDNY and NYPD, to the CIA, we as Americans can be proud of our people. When every circumstance dictated we fall, we defied logic and befuddled reason. In our sorrow we united, in our unity we stood stronger than ever before. A decade later, we can still come together to fix this nations looming conflicts; debt, taxes, entitlement, and immigration. This is a nation unlike any other, does Washington need another defining tragedy to make needed changes? We can still unite, and we need to. A divided nation was the goal of Bin Laden. A decade later, after the world has been divested of Bin Laden, we cannot allow his goal to be accomplished: we must not divide ourselves as he would have done.
Lives can never be replaced, hearts can never be unbroken; however, against all odds, America has produced heroes, forwarded human rights, presented hope and freedom, and made the world a better place. Damage can never be undone; yet at last, we have a silver lining. A decade later.
11 September, 2011
Posted on September 11, 2011, in Patriotslog Articles and tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, decade, Freedom, Iraq, Marcus Luttrell, memorial, New York, Pat Tillman, Pentagon, remembering, ten years later, terrorist, twin towers, war. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.