Such are the words spoken in brutal honesty by Michelle Malkin, one of my favorite blogger/columnists. Seven years ago, at this very moment, I went with my little brother to the Arrowhead Mall Army recruiting station. I had walked in the door, just getting home from work, at 0556. The North Tower had been hit, and my dad and his buddy Mike stopped in the middle of their morning coffee to watch what was going on. Seven minutes later, we watched with mouths agape as United Airlines flight 175 crashed into the South Tower.
If anyone had told me before that moment that Al Qaeda was planning an attack on US soil, I’d have barely believed it true. If anyone had said the attack would involve hijacking commercial jetliners and flying them into America’s most famous landmarks, I’d have laughed. I would never have believed they could get away with it before it was happening before my eyes. I think the vast majority of us would have. Rick Rescorla, a British immigrant to the US who fought with us in the Ia Drang valley in Vietnam, predicted even before the 1993 bombing that the Twin Towers were a target. Afterward, he tried with all his might to convince people that it would happen again. As a testament to his amazing character Rick died on 9/11, refusing to leave the buildings until every last person was out.
373 New York City firefighters breathed their last while still climbing to the rescue of trapped employees. Among them was Chief Orio Palmer, who had been told the fires were uncontrollable but resolved to fight what he could anyway. 34 New York City police officers also gave their lives. And on Flight 93, which took off late, the passengers fought tooth and nail to stop the hijackers on their plane from reaching their intended target–The US Capitol Building. They had already been told what the other hijacked planes had been used for and refused to allow themselves to be used for such a horrible purpose.
When we remember where we were and remember the acts of extraordinary heroism committed by ordinary folks seven years ago, we should also remember that it can happen again. If we fail to see the danger, as we did before, and fight that danger as we refused to before, we will eventually face a similar tragedy. Those who forget the past may be damned to repeat it, but if we resolve to fight for our freedom, then our remembrance has a purpose.
On 9/11, a small band of extremists brought America to her knees. We resolved to fight back and did so. But since then we’ve lost our resolve. Iraq is unpopular because we didn’t realize how long the job would take. Taking a stand against war in any and all circumstances has become chic in our society. Why? Are we that unwilling to stand up for ourselves? We cannot be so weak, lest we give our attackers even more power and more opportunity. We cannot feel fear when we commit to do a job, including Iraq. We never would have believed 19 unknown Muslims could have done so much damage until they did; but when it came time to act in advance and stop a monster, we questioned the outcome.
That behavior is what paved the way for 9/11 to happen in the first place. Saddam may not have been a military superpower at the time, but Hitler started out with far less. Support the troops AND their mission today, or you make yourself a hypocrite as you hold that candle for the heroes of 9/11. And without that resolve, your remembrance is absolutely worthless.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the realization that there is something more important than fear.