Nine years ago I was a freshman in high school and life was good. The world seemed stable and I had never heard of Osama bin Laden. On a cool Tuesday morning, as I came in from marching band practice, all of that changed. I will never forget where I was or how I felt. I knew then my life had been altered, my friends’ lives had changed and the American psyche forever changed. Suddenly, it seemed, we were a nation at war.
The thing is though; we were a nation at war long before that morning. It took 9/11 to remind us that America is a target, America is vulnerable and America is under assault. In the decades (yes, decades) before 9/11 hundreds of Americans had fallen victim to Islamic terrorism. Since the 1970’s Islamic terrorists have invaded an American embassy, hijacked multiple planes, blown up a plane over Scotland, driven a car bomb into Marines’ barracks, bombed a ship in Yemen and perpetrated countless suicide attacks. Even the World Trade Center was attacked by Osama bin Laden in 1993. The Air Force has been fighting in Iraq continuously since the end of the first Gulf War. The War on Terror was going on long before President Bush gave it a name. It’s a brutal struggle and still very real today. There is an endless supply of enemies who wish to commit violence against. Through all this there are still “rough men [who] stand ready in the night to violence on those who would do us harm.” Our soldiers are fighting everyday for our security, we need to support them. The road will be long and will be hard, but we must stay the course. Gen. Bui Tin commanded the North Vietnamese forces, he said, “America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize the will to win.” We cannot let that happen. We must preserve.
Our lives did change that day nine years ago. America woke up to the threat we faced. We no longer are protected by our oceans and there are people on earth who seek to destroy us. Remember where you were, remember how you felt and take a minute to galvanize that feeling. This is a never ending battle and we have to remain vigilant. 9/11 was a shock, a wake-up call because we were naive. We cannot ignore attacks like we did before 9/11 and we cannot forget we face real enemies. The world truly is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short; but, there are men and women standing in the breech for us every day. Many of them served before 9/11, but many joined as a result. We are safe because they are there. Do not forget 9/11. But, never forget it could happen again, if not for those brave enough to defend our country. Today grieve, remember those lost in the towers and those killed in faraway lands, but tomorrow be proud of our troops and what they do for us.