Thursday, September 10, 2009

The day before

We live in interesting times. Eight years ago we lived in an age of innocence and naiveté. All that changed on September 11, 2001 when organized suicidal Al Queda murder squads commandeered jetliners and flew them into the Twin Towers, the glimmering symbol of American capitalism, and the Pentagon, the seat of American military prowess. Prior to this attack, with but a few exceptions, we all felt comfortable in knowing that the threat of terrorism was real, but somehow less menacing to us in our daily lives here in America. All that changed as the roar of American Airlines Flight 11 bore down on the North Tower. The subsequent crashes of United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower, American Airlines Flight 77 into the west side of the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania only added to the misery and pain that all of us Americans have suffered in the eight years since. We have engaged the nation's enemies on the field of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have overthrown a crazed dictator who probably should have been dealt with a decade before during the first Gulf War. Yet, I don't believe any of us feel much safer with the shaky democratic government that has been put into place in Iraq and the truth is the Taliban is becoming more brazen and shoring up many of its strongholds in Afghanistan. The recent election process there did little to aver my fears that an assassination there of one or more top leaders could plunge that country into a far worse crisis and embroil that conflict even more, threatening many more of our brave soldiers. The news that Iran is on the brink of achieving nuclear weaponry is a chilling prospect. It would seem the only country willing to engage the Ayatollah and Ahmadinijad is the tiny Middle East democracy of Israel, which they have threatened for years. Whether Israel will fight that battle alone or not seems uncertain, but make no mistake about it. Were we to be pulled into that conflict, we would certainly be starting down a slippery slope from which we could not remain unscathed. I remember as a child how I felt about communism and the threat of mutually assured destruction from nuclear weapons. Somehow, though, I knew we were dealing with governments, which were answerable to the people. The possibility that religious fanatics bent on the destruction of Israel and America could wield nuclear arsenals makes me no less frightened. Indeed, because of the nature of their philosophies and lack of humanity towards "infidels," my fears are ramped up even higher. I somehow wish we could return to those innocent days of yesteryear when our shores seemed more protected and when the hate manifested by those who would destroy us was separated by vast oceans. The destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was a wake-up call about homegrown terrorism. The attacks of September 11th made the external threat much more real. Today the continuing threat of terrorism looms as a reminder of what we as a nation have endured and the pain we have shared since that eventful day. I hope the world my son inherits is one that will not be as nearly as horrifying, but somehow I know that is wishful thinking on my part because of all that changed eight years ago tomorrow.

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