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September 11, 2008

Dastardly Deed

I remember exactly what I was doing this day 7 years ago. It isn’t important but it is one of those remembrances of my lifetime that parallels the Space Shuttle disasters, the day President Reagan was shot and the death of John Wayne. For me however, this event still, and probably always will, tighten my gut and cause a few tears well up in the corners of my eyes.

I will not watch any memorials or September 11 rehashes on the news. I don’t need them to remember who did this to us, why they did it, and why the lives of millions of Americans have never been, and probably never will be, the same since that day. September 11 rivals the attack on Pearl Harbor and Roosevelt’s description of the December 7 attack as a “dastardly deed” just doesn’t seem apropos to describe the actions that happened in NYC, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 that never made it to its target. But the terrorists did awaken a sleeping giant that day.

For too long our countrymen suffered attacks overseas by Muslim extremists and for too long we suffered attacks on our own soil before finally doing something about it. It has been a long 7 years, even longer for the men and women of the United States military who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it is a different war than what our fathers and grandfathers fought and died in. It seems like there is something missing from Americans today in this War on Terror. Resolve, mutual cooperation, and pride were elements of a mantra adopted by Americans during the World Wars that seemed to dissipate when our involvement in Vietnam launched us into an unpopular war with some Americans- much like the war in Iraq.

I see the war in Iraq and an opportunity for politics to dictate our actions instead of our resolve, our will to defeat an enemy being trumped by rules and laws that protect them. There have been some mistakes in this war on terror, some only realized in the perfect 20/20 vision of hindsight and some warned of from the start. Instead of learning from them or even correcting them, lawmakers, politicians, and Republicans and Democrats alike, use the mistakes as ammo to attack each other. There is more of a fight in Washington to defeat the other party than there is in defeating the terrorists who want to kill us.

McCain and Obama agreed to pull their ads on this day in a show of respect. Why would they have to do that unless the ads are so negative that they distract from anything else that might be on? Yahoo! didn’t even bother to commemorate the lives of the 2974 Americans and visitors who were killed on September 11- but they did have a cute banner graphic for the Olympics and ducks for Mother’s Day. They couldn’t make the “H” in Yahoo to look like the twin towers? Google is no better. It must be too much of a risk to put something on their homepage that might stir up some emotion or patriotism.

While most Americans live their lives oblivious to the war we are fighting, unless it causes their gas costs to increase or that they miss a tv show because a September 11 special is on, I will never forget.

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