Archive for Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lessons from 9/11

September 15, 2011

I can plainly remember the date I had a root canal. I know most people try to forget the event, but I can’t. I remember the fleeting pain that I felt on Sept. 10, 2001, but it was nothing compared to the emotional pain myself, and the rest of the United States, would suffer on Sept. 11, 2001.

Like most Americans, I really wasn’t worried about a foreign attack on U. S. soil. It was unthinkable. I was planning to attend a Kansas City Royals game that week and was looking forward to covering the Bonner Springs-Ottawa game. Then, of course, there was a Chiefs game set for Sunday. In all, it looked like a good week. Of course, in an instant, it became a week we will never forget and one that has changed us forever.

To be honest, I had probably heard of al-Qaida, but I regarded them as one of a number of kook groups that liked to brag but never carried through. When we had gone to England the previous spring, I was more concerned about Irish nationalist groups terrorizing London.

All of us probably remember where we were when we heard the shocking news. In my case, I came home from a meeting and Jean told me one of the twin towers had been struck by an airliner. I had no thought of a terroristic attack. I pointed out that a military bomber had hit the Empire State Building in the 1940’s and I thought it was just a terrible accident.

Then we were watching TV when we saw the second airliner hit the other twin tower. Suddenly, a cold shock came over me. Yes, my optimism had been shattered and the United States was under attack. I believe it was one of the most cowardly attacks in the history of the world.

The terrorists weren’t through after destroying the twin towers. They also attacked the Pentagon and would have attacked the U.S. Capitol building had it not been for the bravery of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, all of whom died in an attempt to take over the hijacked plane.

None of us want to remember the ensuing days when the government was trying to figure out exactly what had happened and who was responsible. We all remember the long lines at gas stations and some cases of price gouging.

Now a decade later, life has changed for all of us. There is far greater security at airports and sports venues. While it can be a pain, personally I don’t mind it. I would rather be safe than sorry.

Even in the Midwest we aren’t completely safe. All we have to do is remember Oklahoma City and a homegrown terrorist who snuffed out more than 160 lives. Increased security will be with us from now on.

Of course, 9/11 led to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many local young people have served in those wars. The conflict really came home to me when Lt. Mike Goins, a Bonner graduate, was killed in action. I worked with Mike on his senior project and he was one of the finest young men I have ever known.

I think there are several lessons to be learned from 9/11. First, we can never truly be safe. Whether it is international terrorists, homegrown fanatics or plain dishonest and evil people, we have to be on guard. I firmly believe in the United States and its future. Yes we are suffering through some very difficult times, but we will survive.

The Muslim terrorists need to learn they cannot use violence to force change. They cannot force the United States to abandon its way of life or its allies.

In many ways, we are groping for our national personality and this has led to a lot of bickering and arguing about who we are. Well, I will give you my opinion: We are the greatest nation in the history of the world and we will find the path forward. We have always met and conquered challenges in the past, and we will do it again.

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