9/11/2012: This year, just like the past ten, I'll spend some time this morning remembering that horrific morning eleven years ago; where I was, what I was doing, how I heard about the first tower strike, watching the second one... the man standing next to me turning to me and saying, "Oh my God; we're at war." I'll remember the fear and frustration I felt on that long ride home; my concerns about my family; wondering where my National Guard unit would be deployed to; wondering what my police department would need in overtime coverage.
I heard about the crash at the Pentagon on the drive home followed by news of Flight 93's crash in that Pennsylvania field. I remember wondering how many more were going to go down. I had friends working in a government building across the highway from Dulles International Airport and, after the fact, I remember them telling me hwo every plane that came in for a landing presented them with fear: would this one miss the runway and hit their building? The building itself was on security lockdown and they couldn't leave until later in the day. I kept my children home the next day from school, concerned about what the follow-up attack might be; waiting for rescue workers to discover an unknown threat in the rubble at all four sites.
I remember how, on September 12th, 2011, there was an American flag proudly flying outside every house on my street. I remember seeing American flags flying from car antennas, stuck on windows, hand-sewn onto the backs of jackets and sweatshirts. For all that I can't help but wonder what I've forgotten.
As we acknowledge the eleventh "anniversary" of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on our country, I have to ask: Have you forgotten?
Sure, some things have changed. The government administration has changed. We have a different person in the Oval Office; control of Congress has gone back and forth; we've captured Saddam Hussein (and his own people hung him) and we've killed Osama Bin Laden (but no great celebration was held). So with all that's changed, do we still need to remember those attacks? Do we still need to feel threatened? or can we get on with life?
I submit to you that we cannot forget; we should never forget. Our enemies are still out there, and some of them are here at home (domestic terrorism). Our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and more are still at war in two countries in the middle east. Whether you agree with them being there or not, we need to support them until they all come home. When will that be? Who knows. No matter what the current administration says, the Global War On Terror will not be over until mankind finds a way to peacefully co-exist despite religious and political differences. We haven't done that across the span of the past couple thousand years. I don't see it happening in the near future.
I have a friend who reminds me of the strength of the American people every year around this time. It's a brief question and answer session that I'll share because I believe it truly does illustrate the strength, not necessarily of America, but of AMERICANS.
Question: How long did it take America to respond to the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001?
Answer: We still are, eleven years later.
Question: How long did it take AMERICANS to respond to the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001?
Answer: Flight 93.
AMERICANS are the strength and bedrock of this great nation. WE must never forget the lessons we learned on that terrible day.
We need to remember.
We need to remember the attacks that occurred.
We need to remember (and honor) the lives lost.
We need to remember and honor the sacrifices being made by our military personnel worldwide today.
We need to remember and honor the sacrifices being made by our public safety professionals nationwide every day.
We need to remember and honor that our country, as fought for and designed by our forefathers, is not up for compromise. We need to be ready to fight for it each day.
In the words of Darryl Worley: Have you forgotten?