How far we have come

Eleven years after 9-11, America is safer and stronger

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To paraphrase the popular political question: Are we better off today than we were 11 years ago?

On this question, we can say unreservedly: Absolutely.

No one the age of discernment and of sound faculty on Sept. 12, 2001, can adequately explain the feelings that day. Fear, dread, sorrow, anger, compassion, loathing, patriotism and more were all dumped in a vat of anxious soup. It’s easy to forget how much was unknown then: who did this; how; why; who else might still attack and where; is anyone safe?

Then, on Sept. 18, came the frightful anthrax attacks through the mail on political and media leaders. Was this the 9-11 terrorists striking from beyond the grave? Their colleagues? An opportunistic domestic malcontent?

It all still rocks many of us to the core. The images are difficult to watch. The thought of being in those towers that day – looking up to see the nose of a plane outside your window, or choosing to jump to your death to escape the inferno – is too much even for the vivid human imagination.

Remember the hundreds of broken hearts and muddled minds wandering the streets of New York for days, desperately wondering where their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters were. In a hospital somewhere? In the debris that wouldn’t be cleaned up for months? Can you imagine the torment?

Perhaps the reason why we were caught so flat-footed by the 9-11 attacks is the fact that Americans have a hard time imagining the level of hatred that leads someone to commit such barbarity.

Today, we have lost much of the patriotic cohesion of the moment, and that’s sad. It shouldn’t require attacks on the homeland to bring the American family together.

But in almost every other way, we have risen from the ashes of 9-11, more determined to protect ourselves and, hopefully, more aware of our blessings. Especially as an all-volunteer military continues to give of its own lives to protect ours in the misbegotten country whence those attacks were hatched.

We’re hassled at the airport as never before, and it only takes one nutcase one bit of luck to strike again in some small way. But there can be no doubt that we have gone a long way toward routing the terrorists. We are still at risk, certainly. But we are safer and stronger today.

We’d love to add that the world has joined us in a comprehensive search for peace, a dedication that 9-11 would never be repeated – anywhere. Sadly, much of the world, while initially sympathetic, has largely gone about its way, foolishly thinking this was our fight alone. The United Nations not only has failed to fully seize upon the 9-11 attacks as a catalyst for peace, but has shown itself utterly impotent to prevent mass killings in Syria – because Russia and China are more attached to their dictator friends than to any notions of human peace or freedom.

All the more reason to appreciate how far we have come from the toxic smoke and emotional fog of those difficult days. And to remember those whose earthly journey ended that blue September Tuesday.

Todd Beamer, one of the heroes who rushed the cabin to prevent Flight 93 from being used as a fourth missile, famously exhorted his fellow travelers and heroes: “Let’s roll!”

We have, Todd. And we always will.

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soapy_725 09/12/12 - 05:40 am

The twin towers had already been bombed. Threats of attacks on American soil were everywhere. Not to mention that Nostradamus had seen this vision. Surprised? No. Horrified and in disbelieve as the day progressed. Yes. Much we feel as if our parents had been able to see Pearl Harbor live. Not surprised either that we are 11 years later bogged down in a military action of occupation. As for the UN, the USA is the military arm of the UN. We just don't have blue helmets, as yet.

soapy_725 09/12/12 - 05:52 am
9/11 was shock and awe

And it results were shock and awe. We did not know anything about Muslim culture. Now they are a recognized minority. Desert people who chose to live in Minneapolis. We have embraced their diverse culture. They did not attack us on 9/11. They opened a line of communication. They let us know we were evil beast of the world.

We saw country music singer revive their careers with "butt kicking songs".

Flags sales went through the roof. Books and movies were produced.

Marketing a tragedy by the media generated billions.

Marketing by the federal government saw the largest reduction in private citizens rights in American history.

For the first time ever. Families of those killed in a national disaster, not war, received $1 million dollars. Soldiers killed fighting the middle east do not receive $1 million dollars. Soldiers killed at Pearl Harbor did not receive $1 million dollars. Those killed in the federal building in Oklahoma did not receive $1 million dollars.

It is always after the dust settles can we possible see the "true damage" to America. The true damage to America was not confined to NYC. America was created to a show of Global Power on American soil.

The show of Global Power continues. Bush set the table and Obama is serving the meal.

Then we all, except for soldiers on the front line, returned to our "swamp of self absorption".

Riverman1 09/12/12 - 12:04 pm
Agree, Dichotomy

We have to begin to fight our wars much differently and protect our self interests with our lethal might. Our economy can't support limited wars and rebuilding countries we have defeated.

Right after 9-11 there was a rally of the Taliban and Al Qaeda supporters in a former soccer stadium in Kabul. We could have turned that crowd and stadium into a salty banana pudding with one airplane and called it even. That along with a stern warning that more would come if we were attacked again would have done more than all the billions and lives we have wasted fighting a polite war.

Gary Ross
Gary Ross 09/12/12 - 01:19 pm
During WWII, America fought

During WWII, America fought to free other countries from opression and tyrany. Many of those same countries view us as enemies. Why? There is a time for everything under Heaven. I agree that maybe we should fight fire with even more fire, in the same way they hurt us x10.

I'm also saddened by wars that weren't supposed to turn into another Viet-Nam, the costs of heightened security that will take decades to pay off, loss of our freedoms through the Patriot Act, and the fear that the media spoon feeds us daily. All are results of 9/11, and sometimes I wonder if the terrorists have won.

I'm tired of living in fear...

rmwhitley 09/12/12 - 06:39 pm
I think

we ought to do it the obama way: kiss their derrieres and beg them not to hurt us anymore!

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