9/11...20 years later

By J. Brewster

On September 11th, 2001, at 8:46 a.m., America’s enemies launched an attack that forever changed this nation and the world.

A group of terrorists seized control of four planes and launched them at symbols of American power and prestige. Two planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City. One plane struck the Pentagon. And one plane, headed toward the White House, crashed in a field in Stonycreek, PA, when the passengers onboard the plane decided to fight back and were willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect their country from radical jihadists. In total, the coordinated attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities and over 25,000 injuries. It is to this day considered the deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively.

The greatness of America is an idea that generations of Americans have chosen to embrace. It doesn’t matter if they were born in this country or chose to make America their home, countless people have answered the call to step up and defend this country from those who would seek to tear it down. And so it was that the United States launched the War on Terror and invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and subsequently defeated al-Qaeda and Isis militants. In Afghanistan alone almost 2,400 American service members have died. Additionally, over 20,000 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. Also according to the Defense Department, U.S. casualties in Iraq are over 4,500 with over 32,000 wounded.

It has been twenty years since that fateful day, and it is important to pause and take stock of where America was and where she is now. Twenty years ago the Taliban was in control of Afghanistan. Women were subjugated and deprived of freedoms that Americans take for granted every day. Boys were trained to be killers from a very young age. Their choices were simple: fight who they were told to fight, or die. Now, twenty years later, what has changed? The Taliban is back in control of Afghanistan. The United States gave a country a generation’s worth of freedom just to see those freedoms be stripped from them as their country is thrown back into chaos. America is better than that...

America has been hailed as a “shining beacon on a hill” for a reason. America has always meant resolve, power, compassion, and determination. Some say that the only reason that America needed to go to Afghanistan was to defeat al-Qaeda, kill Bin Laden, and spank Isis. And America did that. America did a lot of that. But winning simply isn’t enough. How America wins should also matter. America gave hope and freedom to a nation that had been oppressed. Then, with hardly any warning, the leaders in America decided to pull out and leave in the most disorderly way. American citizens were left behind. Allies who had helped U.S. and Coalition forces were also left behind. Materiel and equipment were left for enemy forces to seize. American taxes that went to support Afghan forces have now supplied America’s enemies. This was a dereliction of duty of the highest magnitude.

So as the nation reflects on September 11th, Americans might want to take a moment to think about what this nation used to stand for and what she needs to stand for again. Think about the civilians on Flight 93 that took on trained militants in order to save countless lives, at the cost of their own. Think about the people stranded in the Twin Towers jumping to their deaths to avoid being burned alive. This nation is the greatest nation in the world. It’s time to “act as if.”

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