Monday, September 11, 2006

Day Of Remembrance

Today is the fifth anniversary of the hijacking of four passenger jets by fundamentalist Islamic extremists. In the blogosphere, you will find literally thousands of tributes to people killed in these attacks, including this very moving one. We should also remember that tens of thousands of people survived.

Like presidential assassinations and shuttle explosions, nearly everyone remembers where they were when they learned of the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings. While I watched the events unfold on television, I had an uncle at work in Building 2 that day. He escaped and survived. Many others did that day as well, often due to the courage and determination of friends, coworkers, and heroic first responders.

It is not my place to tell my uncle’s story. I could not do it justice. I have only heard it once. While he made everything sound like it doesn’t bother him, it’s not a topic to bring up too often. Let it suffice to say that I would not want to have been where he was that day or seen the things he saw.

The people who tried to kill my uncle are evil, pure and simple. There are many theological definitions of evil. Some even argue that evil is a purely human construction. Perhaps it is, but that doesn’t change the fact that evil does exist and it can be recognized. By whatever way you define it, evil must encompass the willingness of people to kill innocent bystanders to bring attention to their cause. The Irish Republican Army bombing British department stores was evil. Bombers of abortion clinics in the name of Christianity are evil. And Osama bin Laden and his followers that arbitrarily killed themselves and nearly 3000 other unsuspecting victims is an appalling act of brutality that has redefined our working definition of “inconceivable”.

It galls me that five years later we have yet to bring justice, retribution, or vengeance on the mastermind architect fiendish planner of those attacks, and we don’t even have any good leads on him. Osama bin Laden’s decision to kill thousands of people because of a twisted interpretation of the words of a warrior/leader/prophet who has been dead for over a millennium should not go unpunished. No one should ever be allowed to use words in a book to justify the killing of random strangers.

It’s a petty complaint, but I despise hearing of the events of that day five years ago constantly shorthanded as “Nine-eleven”. September 11th deserves more than just a date on the calendar. Even the Fourth of July is officially known as Independence Day. “Day of Infamy” is already taken, but a military sneak attack by a nation we could rise up against and defeat in a few short years seems quaintly simple compared to the Pandora’s box of tactics employed by faceless sinister cabals who have proven that human life means nothing to them.

Because of the sweeping nature of the attacks which include the crash into the Pentagon and the foiled hijacking of United 93, no simple phrase can sum up the enormity of the attacks, except perhaps to say that evil exists in this world. We should remember that and fight it every chance we get.

Never Forget.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

As usual, you make some very good points. You're right in asking us to remember the thousands of people who survived. They especially are the ones who are living with the horrific memory of seeing things that we'll never be able to imagine.

You're also right in that no word has yet been invented that can accurately describe that tragic day.

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful post, thanks.

2fs said...

Officially, the holiday commemorated September 11 is called "Patriot Day." This, however, is worse than inadequate: it is tendentious - what has "patriotism" to do with commemorating the loss of life of thousands of people, not all of whom were even Americans? - and verging on obscene in its transparent attempts to yoke our feelings about that day's events to political goals. I think the reason people simply refer to it as "September 11" is that (as you imply) words seem inadequate to describe it - so a mere date (which doesn't pretend to describe) in some ways does better than falling short with a failed descriptor.

yellojkt said...

Patriot Day is such a horrible name. It makes me think of Mel Gibson.

Anonymous said...

A very nice tribute to the people who died and a great blast againt the evil doers.

Anonymous said...

A Proclamation

On this first observance of Patriot Day, we remember and honor those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We will not forget the events of that terrible morning nor will we forget how Americans responded in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania -- with heroism and selflessness; with compassion and courage; and with prayer and hope. We will always remember our collective obligation to ensure that justice is done, that freedom prevails, and that the principles upon which our Nation was founded endure.

Inspired by the heroic sacrifices of our firefighters, rescue and law enforcement personnel, military service members, and other citizens, our Nation found unity, focus, and strength. We found healing in the national outpouring of compassion for those lost, as tens of millions of Americans participated in moments of silence, candlelight vigils, and religious services. From the tragedy of September 11 emerged a stronger Nation, renewed by a spirit of national pride and a true love of country.

We are a people dedicated to the triumph of freedom and democracy over evil and tyranny. The heroic stories of the first responders who gave their all to save others strengthened our resolve. And our Armed Forces have pursued the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and else-where with valor and skill. Together with our coalition partners, they have achieved success.

Americans also have fought back against terror by choosing to overcome evil with good. By loving their neighbors as they would like to be loved, countless citizens have answered the call to help others. They have contributed to relief efforts, improved homeland security in their communities, and volunteered their time to aid those in need. This spirit of service continues to grow as thousands have joined the newly established USA Freedom Corps, committing themselves to changing America one heart at a time through the momentum of millions of acts of decency and kindness.

Those whom we lost last September 11 will forever hold a cherished place in our hearts and in the history of our Nation. As we mark the first anniversary of that tragic day, we remember their sacrifice; and we commit ourselves to honoring their memory by pursuing peace and justice in the world and security at home. By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has authorized and requested the President to designate September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2002, as Patriot Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services and candlelight vigils. I also call upon the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day. Further, I encourage all Americans to display the flag at half-staff from their homes on that day and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time, or another appropriate commemorative time, to honor the innocent victims who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.