Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Year One

There is no shortage of commentary out there on this anniversary. In a way, I did not want to add my two cents. I want today to be like yesterday. I want tomorrow to be what today is. I want today to be just another day that we are hunting and killing our enemies. But this is a "war blog" (I discovered I am part of a trend here) so I should comment.

Mostly, I avoided the media. I did not want to wallow in the day. That wasn't tough since I worked today. And then I picked up my son from his mom's parents, so it was just playing and cartoons. Mister is only in kindergarten and I do not want him to see anything about this day yet. He loves planes. How can I explain to him that people would take them and fly them into buildings? He is safely asleep now. Ignorant of this evil.

I guess I was surprised that what little I heard on my long drive home after work could bring me to tears. Tears of anguish at the thought of 3,000 dead. Anguish as I heard the names read off one after another. I could not imagine the horror of those who chose to dive from the towers in desperation. The bastards gave them a choice of burning to death or taking their chances plunging toward the ground. Did they hope they might somehow live? If they hoped for just another minute of life, did they contemplate their life as they fell-a false calm enveloping them? All alone, some two hundred died this way.

I shed tears of anger thinking of the Pentagon dead. They were more in a long line of military personnel killed in recent years. The Marine Beirut barracks, the Air Force Khobar Towers, the USS Cole in Yemen.

My tears also reflected my pride in America. The Flight 93 passengers faced a choice of doing nothing and living a little longer; or fighting and dying to protect our nation from the hijackers' evil plans. They bought us our first victory. And my pride in my country's response continues. Our enemies (and, to my despair, a lot of my fellow citizens too) thought we were too weak willed to fight back. They thought we were sheep to be slaughtered in their perverse rituals of death. We have continued to fight back. And how we have fought! We reached around the globe and smashed the Taliban. We plunged our sword into the al Qaeda scum and grievously wounded them. We continue to hunt them. And Iraq is next. Despite the chorus of doubters around the world who condemn us for fighting, who say we deserved this, who tremble at every shadow that they see, expecting dire consequences of fighting, we prepare to end Saddam's regime. Our forces quietly deploy. We have replenished our war stocks. We will invade and the Devil with our critics. We will not just sit and take this. We will not be victims. We did not deserve this horror. And we will prevail. I am still angry at what they did to us.

Has everything changed? One year after they attacked us, the terrorists haven't taken my life from me. I live it. I enjoy it. I plan for the future. In its details, my life is marked by continuity.

They have given me anger. Anger at them for killing us. Anger at those who are not roused to anger over being attacked. Anger against those who insist we somehow earned this horror. Anger at those who would stand in our way as we fight back.

They also gave me a city to love and embrace. I used to think little of New York City. The people were rude and cold and haughty. I had no need for them. But now, after they became the front line of the first battle of this latest round of fighting against the terrorists, I care about what happens to them. I want vengeance for them-for us.

Is this a petty thing to say? That the terrorists gave me a city? A self-centered thing to consider? I don't know. I don't think it is about me claiming some special impact of the day. As I said, my life goes on. I am fine. I will not sink into a cult of victimhood over this attack. But embracing New York is a refusal to fall back into pre 9-11 thought patterns.

Ich bin ein New Yorker, I guess.

Remember the horror we felt a year ago. Remember the vulnerability that was thrust upon us. Remember the barbarism of our enemies. Remember that our enemies would kill us in the millions if they could and praise God for the glorious opportunity to do so. The tears we shed today must remind us that failure to fight and win will lead to more tears for future victims. Let our enemies cry instead. I don't care. I feel no sympathy for them.

War is thrust upon us. Do not try to understand our enemy's motives. Just go after them. Kill them all. Every damn last one of them. God have mercy on anyone who stands in our way.