With everyone you met you shared an emotion. I never did that before.
- A New Yorker, Sept. 11, 2001
Forty-five years ago this week my husband came home with the largest floral bouquet I had ever seen. The cultivated, wildflower assortment, iridescent in pastels and a sprinkling of white daisies, was the perfect gift for a happy occasion, our second wedding anniversary.
Therell be no bouquets for the second anniversary all America observes tomorrow. Sept. 11, 2001, was not a happy day.
Blessed (comforted) are they that mourn, and mourn we still do. For those on the periphery, time may have diminished the horror of that awful day. But for those now widowed, orphaned and otherwise bereaved, two years barely dents their grief. Nor should it, at least not until the last stone in the search for accountability is overturned, and everything possible has been done to prevent such evil from happening again.
If the tyrant of Al Quaeda and international terror has his way, however, we wont succeed. Osama bin Ladens next step will be unbelievable, reports Newsweek (Sept. 8). His main priority is to kill Americans by any means readily at hand. But if the international coalition against terror has its way, this plan, like the dozens of documented attacks already foiled, will never shatter our towers or citizens again.
But thats a lot of ifs, all the more unsettling because theres so little we citizens and tower inhabitants can do to influence the outcome.
Or is there?
People have taken down their flags, laments a New Yorker in the Arts and Entertainment documentary, Seven Days in September. Perhaps the drop in flag-waving is nothing more than national attention deficit disorder. Flags wear out, you know, and other causes do arise. Or is there a connection between the reduction in visible patriotism and the rising tendency to blame someone for the attacks two years ago and criticize whatever is being done now to make our homeland more secure? United we stand, divided we fall, say the sages - fairy-taler Aesop and supporters of the American Revolution included. The seams of unity fray just as quickly by eroding within, as they do from attacks by an external foe.
Columnist Cal Thomas has another idea: Theres a greater enemy than terrorism facing the United States (and) that enemy is lack of resolve. We may have heard our president say the war on terror would take time, but we didnt think it would take this long, cost this much, face this many setbacks, or claim so many lives.
Perhaps its time to rediscover our heritage - our eight-year War of Independence, for example, and less than a century later a four-year struggle to preserve the union even when all the casualties were our boys. And lets not forget our six-year effort to preserve the world in two world wars, or more years in Korea, Vietnam and a half-dozen other limited conflicts, including the Persian Gulf 12 years ago. Reliable memories will also realize its been 138 years since any war has been fought on our soil. Not until aero-bombs hit our cities two years ago did we have an inkling that an act of war could happen here again.
Can we do anything else? How about ceasing our mandates for a quick end to the war on terror wherever the battles lead? Our enemies have no timetable; and, as the record shows, they honor no cease-fire. They would have cheered Sir Winston Churchills inspiring, 1941 speech: Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.
One of my lasting memories of our three-year stay in Berlin, Germany, is of visiting the Wall Museum near that infamous barrier between freedom and oppression. All kinds of exhibits were crowded into the too-small, two-story building to chronicle the history of the wall. No space went unoccupied, including the empty inches along passageways that functioned as an art gallery for the drawings of children. Translated into English, the German words on one drawing were these: The worst thing that can happen to the German people is that we forget the wall is here.
If the American people cannot do more, we can at least remember always the day the flags went up, the resolve poured out and the towers, the Pentagon and the lives of nearly 3,000 of our people came crashing down.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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