There are moments in your life that stick in your memory forever. My grandfather remembered Pearl Harbor and the twin joys of VE Day and VJ Day. My father remembers the day that Grandpa came back from fighting in the Pacific. He also told me about anxiously listening to the radio during the tense days of the Cuban missile crisis, and learning of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and later his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.
I don’t know if things really are happening faster in my life, or merely that I have lived through these experiences rather than learning about them secondhand. In my lifetime, I remember where I was the moment I heard President Reagan was shot. I watched live footage of the Challenger exploding on CNN, and wept as the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry. I remember the burning at Waco, Texas and the bombing two years later in Oklahoma City. The Berlin Wall coming down was a joy to see, since I had traveled through Checkpoint Charlie only a few years before. The explosion of Mount St. Helens, and the explosive LA riots showed me the level of destruction nature and man can produce. And I remember where I was as I learned about the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001. It has been three years since this tragic day.
Images from that day evoke many emotions for me: anger at those who did this, sadness for those who died, and compassion for those who watched their loved ones die. I originally picked the picture of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center for this post, but I changed my mind. The firemen who raised the flag at Ground Zero are an example of Americans working to make the United States better. To make this happen, those who support, plan, and execute acts of terror need to be hunted down and stopped. President Bush has served notice to the terrorists that their days are numbered, and warned the nations of the world that harboring terrorists will bring down American retribution. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has fallen, Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq is no more, and the U.S. remains free of any major terrorist attack to this day.
Will the U.S. be attacked again? Most certainly. But for three years the terrorists have been kept on the run, hiding in caves to avoid American military might. Three-fourths of al Qaeda’s leadership and structure is gone, either dead or captured. But al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group out there, and the battle to keep America safe and free from those who want us dead will continue for years, if not decades.
It will take determination, and that is the strongest feeling that the images of the September 11th attack evoke in me.
Some other good places to go today:
* Captain Ed writes about his view of today. He sees many of the same life-changing history events.
* Charles of Little Green Footballs writes about September 11th.