18 years ago in February, seven members of the Islamic organization known as Al Quaeda set off a van full of explosives in the basement of the World Trade Center. Their goal was to collapse the one building so that it would in turn fall into the second. Six people were killed instantly and thousands were injured. All but one of the Muslims responsible for this attack were arrested and convicted before they could carry out the next part of their attack in bombing the Lincoln Tunnel and releasing enough cyanide gas to kill thousands in the middle of New York.
10 years ago today, Al Quaeda returned to the World Trace Center to finish what they started. That Tuesday, 19 Islamic extremists boarded four planes. They murdered 2975 Americans. 3051 children lost their mother or father on that day.
The victims that day included maintenance workers and stock brokers, pilots and stewardesses, waiters and CEO’s. The youngest victim was Christine Lee, a 2 and a half year old child who was on Flight 175. The oldest was an 82 year old passenger on Flight 11. Rich and poor, influential and anonymous, young and old each died without ever knowing the reason why.
Several years ago a friend of mine’s father died suddenly. He said later that the thing that really bothered him about the loss he felt was that the world didn’t stop turning. While he was hurt and it seemed like all other priorities just disappeared, everyone else around him kept going as if nothing had happened at all. At one point, he began to get angry that aside from the occasional condolences he received that everyone around him just acted like his father’s death wasn’t important. But he realized that those people around him had not experienced his loss and he couldn’t expect them to behave as if they had.
On September 11th, 2001, each and every one of us experienced a loss. Some of us knew a victim personally, some of us knew families whose loved one had been murdered in the attacks. We all experienced a loss that day, a loss in feelings of security. A loss of normalcy and confidence in our air travel system.
We read about and heard about the extraordinary measures that nation of Israel must take to prevent another school bus bombing, hotel bombing and rockets from being launched into their cities on an almost daily basis and if we even thought for a moment about it, that thought would be accompanied with this vague notion at the back of our minds, “at least this kind of thing happens somewhere else.”
September 11th, 2001 changed all of that for all of us.
It is a day to remember the heroes of 9/11.
The firefighters directing people out of the towers heard the May Day call signaling the beginning of the collapse. Rather than run for their lives, they spent their last moments on earth trying to get others out of the building.
The passengers of Flight 93, aware of the attacks on the Twin Towers, fought together to prevent the hijackers from using the plane they were on to murder hundreds more people and prevented the terrorists from hitting their intended target. They succeeded but lost their lives in the process.
If we want to remember 9/11, if we want to honor those lost there are four things we can do.
First, Don’t Forget the Day They Died. Just as in New York there is an empty space where two towers stood, there is also still an empty space in the hearts and lives of many thousands of family members who are left behind. Don’t let the impact of this day’s events ever fade on you or your children. Let them see the photos, the videos so that they know the horror of a day that they were perhaps too young to have experienced. We cannot honor the lives lost if we let future generations forget.
Second, Don’t Forget Why They Died. Few of the victims on that day knew why the events unfolded as they did. None of them had any direct role in driving mad men into a murderous rage. But we know why. Less than a decade after the terrorist attacks, our government tried to disassociate the word Terrorism from the 9/11 attacks. Instead, we were told to call them ‘man-caused disasters’. The War on Terror became an Overseas Contingency Operation. This was in an effort to avoid offending others. Get this straight, 9/11 was not an accident, was not a tragic circumstance, it was murder on a mass scale. Changing a word here or there, doesn’t change the intent or outcome.
Third, Don’t Forget Who Killed Them. On this tenth anniversary of the worst terror attack on American soil, our Government has put forth the memo that we are not to use the word Al Quaeda, we are not to blame Islam so that we don’t fuel hatred against our country by offending Muslims. When a Muslim doctor leaps up on a military base screaming “Allah Akhbar” and shoots everyone he can see, including a pregnant woman, the President says don’t jump to conclusions, we don’t want to offend anyone. But the day that we know who it was and why it was, we are supposed to skirt around the truth in the name of tolerance and political correctness.
Here’s a conclusion for all of us on 9/11/2011. Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We have been attacked again by people with the same ideology, and we have made it easier on these murderers and dishonored the victims they claimed by forgetting the day, forgetting why they died and forgetting who killed them.
And Fourth, we can remember September 12th, 2001. In the days following, Americans pulled together. Neighbors helped neighbors. Despite all the petty disagreements we had with one another as a nation, we had been attacked by a common enemy and we were the United States of America. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost that unity. We’ve lost that community feeling.
This is why groups like the Osceola Mercury One group has formed. So when there is a need, whether it be a natural disaster like the flooding in the Northeast, an economic crisis like the one we are in now, or another terrorist attack, we can as a group of neighbors and friends come together united to meet that need. That is how we can remember September the 11th. That is how we can honor those who died, by exhibiting the attitudes and brotherhood that we had on September the 12th, 2001.