(To be given on a memorial service in North Reading Massachusetts this coming Sunday. Unfortunately, I will not be present to deliver it. BTW By coincidence; this is my 100th entry)
About eight months ago, I agreed to an interview with Paul Hair, a Conservative Blogger who writes on Islam, the US Military and Politics. He is also continuing to serve his country in the Army Reserve after a 6 year tour of active duty which included combat in Iraq.
Here is the last question he asked me:
"The World War II generation is called the Greatest Generation. Yet when that generation fought they fought with a generally united nation and when the Draft existed. What do you think of your son’s generation who fights today when a large portion of the nation doesn’t support American troops and no Draft compels service?"
I will give you my answer at the end.
Ten years ago, today, 19 Al Qaeda affiliated hijackers stole 4 jets and flew them into the World Trade Center Buildings, the Pentagon, along route 95 and attempted to crash a fourth into some as yet unknown target. That fourth plane never reached it's "reassigned" destination. In all, 2998 people perished at the hands of those 19 zealots of a seventh century, demonically inspired ideology.
I refuse to call them terrorists.
Terrorist is but one of many misnomers that has been associated with a segment of the world population that believe the actions of that day were righteous. Make no mistake about it; the nineteen men that committed that atrocity on American soil that we remember today were but the tip of the sword.
As Americans, we have grown to respect the concept of self determination, freedom of speech, the right to assemble and freedom of religion. We cherish a live and let live attitude that has drawn many to these shores, seeking refuge from a world seemingly gone mad. Over the many centuries since that small group of exiles landed on the east coast of what would become the United States of America, escaping religious persecution from their own homeland, this country has stood as a beacon of freedom, and a haven of rest.
However, as is all too often true of people, this country has been lulled into a coma, comforted by the fact that we have been insulated from the ravages of war and the abuses of tyrants for all these years. Except for a very few isolated incidents, including the events of September 11 2001, we have been blessed with relative peace on these shores. What the apathetic forget, however, is that peace has been bought and paid for. As the old adage goes; "Nothing is free"; not even freedom.
In New York City, today, all of the families of the victims, of those 19 True Soldiers of Allah, the Politicians of that City and a representative contingent of Politicians from Washington DC, will gather at the World Trade Center site to remember the events of that day.
Notably absent will be those who stood shoulder to shoulder with others who willingly sacrificed their own lives in an attempt to save those trapped in those two towers, that day. They will not be there, because they were not invited.
The Apathetic have forgotten.
While today is a memorial for those who died in those attacks, it is imperative that we also never forget that many were not in those buildings that day to make money, they ran into those buildings to save lives and that selfless act ultimately cost some of them their lives.
Since that day, hundreds of thousands of United States Service members, have been compelled, by this government, into harm's way to hold responsible those who plotted those attacks. Tens of thousands have been wounded, some with life changing effect. Nearly five thousand have died doing the same.
Their combined sacrifices are a direct result of the actions of that day and yet, they are neither remembered nor their brothers, invited. We compound this injustice by perpetuating an insidious act of political cowardice by not naming the enemy who inspired those attacks, cheered the attackers and with whom we are still, presumably, locked in battle.
If America wants to know what a real memorial looks like we need not look further back than the few short years following a similar event which occurred on December 7th 1941. That generation had absolutely no problem naming their enemy or delivering them a mortal blow. The devastation that was rained downed on Germany and Japan in answer to the events of that day, were a grand manifestation of the righteous anger, the resolve and the moral courage of not only a focused nation, but true, leadership.
What we are witnessing today, in the Halls of those great political institutions in DC will be chiseled in stone to be viewed by future generations as the meanderings of the feeble minded, the self-centered and the cowardly. For anyone who declares himself a Leader and then abandons the selfless hero on the field of battle and forgets him at the Memorial, is no leader. He is a scourge on his nation!
I was on a jobsite in the serene mountains around Rangeley Maine when word of the first plane hitting the first tower came in. I instantly knew the ramifications of the impact of that plane. I also knew my Marine Corps Reserve unit would be buzzing, even before I got the first call. By the end of that day was I angry, like every other American. The transformation I witnessed in the attitudes in this country over the next few weeks, was hopeful. I still believe, America can be as it once was, but not if it continues to flush the blood of it's heroes, down the toilet bowl of history.
My admonishment to you it is this; never forget to uphold those who have been willing to pay for your freedom with their very lives, even as you mourn your victims.
My encouragement for you is in the answer I gave to that question from Paul Hair. It is encouragement because as long as it is true; we still retain a remnant of the hope those Pilgrims brought with them from their
"That generation rose to the occasion. I believe there is a segment of every generation that is great and it is measured by acts of selflessness. There is very little in society or even life in general that could be defined as acts of selflessness. The Armed Services of this nation will never have to wonder about that. The very act of joining ensures you will be acting apart from self. Those who have served are the best of their generation; PERIOD!"
My prayer is that while we remember those lost on that day, ten years ago, we also remember, with humility, those who have sacrificed their very lives, and hopes, and dreams that we might continue to live in the relative peace and comfort we have been blessed with, these many years.