Thirteen years is a long time in some cases, yet other times it seems like only a moment ago. There are plenty of things I still vividly remember about September 11, 2001- and millions of Americans will never forget where they were when Islamic terrorists used planes to murder thousands in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania.
I remember the days and months after the attacks, and the years since. I remember the politics, but also the coming together of this nation- for such a little while. Churches were full the few Sundays afterwards, but not long after that people were praying to God and using the name of Allah believing the politically correct assumption that the two are one in the same. Multi faith prayer groups sprung up all over the country due to a need to prove that Islam is a religion of peace which was somehow being used as a tool for extremists. Indeed, ever since, the words radical or extremist are used synonymously when one talks of Islam, almost apologetically as to not offend others who share the same religion, but are removed from the ideology.
I remember a feeling of pride when my sister in law told me her sons gave up their Canadian citizenship, and had become Americans so they could join the military.
I think of when I wrote to a soldier who was in Iraq. He’d had published a brutally honest assessment of the way attitudes of politicians, media and others were affecting the moral of our troops. It was then that I found one of my priceless treasures- our Military and Veterans.
I wrote to that soldier, to remind him that there were more Americans who cared about what they were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tried to encourage him and others for what they were doing. I look at the years since, becoming friends with the Soldier’s dad, who answered my e mail on behalf of his son. He answered hundreds of e mails personally and I like to think that those guys knew then that there were still people who cared. I remember crying the day I found out that our Soldier had died over there.
I think about discussions over the years with a few Veterans I know; guys who had served in Vietnam, Beirut and Iraq during Desert Storm. They all said the same thing- that if they could have, they’d sign up again.
I started seeing more things that bothered me greatly. The numbers of those who share the same religious ideology as those who attacked us were now being hired in jobs in our Security and Intelligence agencies and military.
We had not just suffered an attack on 9/11- the same ideology had attacked before, the first World Trade Center bombing, the bombing of the USS Cole, Khobar Towers… People of the same beliefs were now giving sensitivity training to our troops, to school teachers, to government employees, and even in Christian churches. It’s politically incorrect to use the words Islam and terror in the same sentence anymore, yet every act of terror was done in the name of Islam. It would have been unthinkable allowing Nazis to work in the FBI, CIA, defense, Pentagon and military bases during the 2nd World War then, but it’s somehow acceptable now?
I’m seeing more people blaming our military, and a return of a selfish mindset of those who trashed our troops when they came home from Vietnam. The main theme of the incredulous idiocy is that if it weren’t for our troops, there would be no war. Apparently people who believe that are completely unaware of who have kept them safe all these years- people who have given them the freedom to be selfish and shallow.
I have heard that “Americans are war weary” for the past 4 or 5 years. The only ones who are truly war weary are those who have to fight it- and those who live it daily. Yes, Americans are tired. I’m tired of the fact that the enemy is still as strong as ever, while our government and the majority of Americans have ignored that fact, and those who have been warning of it are called Islamophobic bigots or worse. People seem to think that if only all of our troops came home, the terrorists will all be satisfied and go lead peaceful Islamic lives. Tell that to the people of Syria. Tell it to the people of Iraq, whose cities had been liberated by Americans, only to be retaken once our forces were brought home.
I can’t help but wonder, what means the most to you, and are you willing to stand up for it? Would you be willing to give most of your time for it? Would you be willing to sacrifice your family, or a chance to have a family life for it? Would you be willing to put your heart and soul into it without expecting to get anything in return for it? Would you be willing to give your life for it?
Thousands of Americans have found something that was worth doing all of that for.
The number of American troops who gave their lives in fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 is more than 6,800. As for the numbers of returning troops and veterans who have died since, whether by combat related injuries, suicide due to PTSD and/or TBI and depression… These numbers are atrocious and a national disgrace.
Whether you agree politically or not with war, or everything that has happened since 9/11/01, we are safe only because others are willing to engage an enemy over there so we don’t have to face them over here.
As the anniversary of September 11th draws close, I will never count the cost of all who died in the past 13 years of service as a waste, but each is an incredible loss. Let us not allow their blood shed to be erased because of our refusal to believe that we are still at war. Let us not forget or ignore the incredible sacrifices, courage, honor and exceptionalism that so few have shown and given by ignoring the Islamic threat that remains. If we are attacked again, it’s not due to those who have given so much- it will be due to a nation who forgot too soon who attacked us on September 11, 2001 and the multitude of times before then and since.
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