One other time in my life I experienced one of those, “I’ll never forget what I was doing when . . .” moments. I was a sophomore in high school in New Milford, Connecticut, sitting in class, when the speaker box, hanging on the wall for inter-school communication, crackled to life. The announcement was short and to the point. It went something like this: “The president has been shot. School is dismissed.” We sat there, transfixed, not comprehending what we had just heard. President Kennedy was shot? What happened? Who would do such a thing? And more importantly, why? The date is burned into our collective memories: November 22, 1963.
Back to 9-11. As I fumbled for the remote control that early morning and clicked on the news, I was running various scenarios through my mind as to what might have happened. I assumed some private pilot probably wanted to fly his Cessna in close around the towers and got caught in the swirling winds and wound up like a bug splattered against the side of one of the towers. As the TV came on I watched just as the second plane crashed into the other tower. All thoughts of a small plane having a mishap vanished. This was a deliberate act. I sat there with my head in my hands in utter disbelief for perhaps ten minutes or so. I then showered and made my way to the living room so I could watch the news and attempt to piece together the insanity that such an event fosters.
Now we find ourselves a decade removed from this horrific attack against us as Americans. Have we learned anything? If so, what?
Allow me to posit a couple of thoughts along this line.
First, as Americans have always done when threatened, we united in one of the most patriotic fervors I’ve seen in my lifetime. American flags festooned every home and business from “sea to shining sea.” Pickup trucks with large well-secured American flags rising out of the truck bed fluttering in the breeze seemed to be in every town. Political and philosophical differences were set aside because we are a family of Americans. When one is threatened, all are threatened. Where has that unity gone? It did not take long for the petty bickering and the chorus of Monday morning quarterbacking to resume with a vengeance. The finger pointing and accusations (real and fabricated) were slung far and wide in an effort to find someone to blame. Remember the unconscionable allegation that suggested President George Bush not only knew about the impending attack on us, but actually helped to orchestrate it? The other favorite of mine is that the two towers were brought down by explosives planted in the foundation of each tower.
Second, our military picked up the responsibility of prosecuting a war against terrorists. These men and women (many who were reservists) set aside their careers and families and “Rogered Up.” They voluntarily answered the call when our nation needed them. It was strongly believed at that time that we were facing WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) should we dare have the temerity to invade Iraq. I can assure you that every single troop on the ground believed there were WMDs. And so did every other free nation! You don’t wear MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) suits in 115 degree weather because you’re trying to lose weight! They are cumbersome, hot, and generally a pain to put on and wear. Add to that a gas mask that makes you look like something from a 1950s Sci-Fi movie. Americans pointed to our military with pride in those early days, and hailed them as heroes as they flew from our shores to fight an enemy on his turf. They performed as American fighting men and women always have and always will. But those few negative incidents, most blown out of proportion, caused the American populace to question our own sons and daughters in uniform. Shame on us! They have taken the fight to the enemy, and we are safe today because of it.
It’s just my thoughts on this, but it seems to me that if “We the People” felt the pinch of a wartime setting more here at home the way our parents and grandparents did during World War II, we might be less inclined to accept the negative spin that we are fed routinely through the media.
Remember this America: We didn’t start this fight. We are a people who are very content to live and let live. Just don’t bring trouble to our door, unless you’re prepared to accept the consequences. But since we didn’t start this mess, if we’re allowed to, we sure have the capability to finish it. To do so requires that we have the national resolve to see this through. Otherwise 9-11 marks the eventual demise of the late great United States of America.
You already know my answer to this question, but you must answer for yourself: Is America still worth defending?