One year ago today in an attack unprecedented in the history of humankind, 19 terrorists murdered almost 3000 Americans. There will be many memorials today to the innocent men and women who died on 9/11. The husbands who never came home to their wives, the mothers who never looked into the faces of their children again, and the sons and daughters who were buried by their parents. We’ll also remember the heroes, the firefighters and policemen who died trying to save others in the World Trade Center, as well as Todd Beamer and the other passengers on Flight 93. Honoring America’s heroes and innocents lost is worth doing. However, the best way we can honor them is not with ceremonies or with television specials, but by doing everything in our power to prevent another 9/11 from happening. That will not be accomplished with tributes, but with action. As George Orwell said so long ago,
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”
The freedom that America enjoys is not a given. Over the course of our existence, our fellow citizens have spilled their life’s blood on battlefields foreign and domestic to protect our country and our way of life. But despite our nation’s long and proud history, some of our fellow citizens have been timid about confronting evil since 9/11. Faced with an enemy that unhesitatingly murdered almost 3000 of their fellow citizens, they’ve chosen the discredited path of appeasement. As maniacal dictators and fanatical thugs across the Middle East seek weapons of mass destruction and cooperate with terrorists who seek the destruction of America and her allies, some of our fellow citizens are counseling us to stay our hand against our enemies. Some people have even gone so far as to say that, “there is a tolerable level” of terror that Americans should simply learn to accept.
I utterly and completely reject those views as not only being wrong, but un-American. Our outmanned and outgunned Founding Fathers didn’t struggle against what must have seemed to be impossible odds so their descendents could live in eternal fear of a backwards group of cavemen. Abraham Lincoln did not lead America though the horrors of the Civil War so we could sit back and helplessly wait for terrorists to crash jets into our skyscrapers. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers didn’t die fighting at Pearl Harbor, Normandy, & Iwo Jima so their grandchildren could spend their days twiddling their thumbs and speculating about which American city will be the first to be leveled by a suicide bomber with a nuclear weapon. Previous generations of Americans understood that we’ve fought not just for ourselves, but for the future of our nation. As Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it,
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free”
Those among us who argue that we should give up that freedom and retreat in the face of an implacable enemy are in their ignorance and passivity helping the terrorists to murder more innocent people. For how can we expect any other nation to stand up against terrorism if even the United States of America does not have the will to take them on? Who will those who fight against terror turn to if not us? A United Nations that has no power except on paper? A European Union that pontificates endlessly about human rights while winking at Palestinian terrorists and chastising the Israelis who fight them? If terrorism is going to be stopped, we’re going to have to be the ones to do it. This is not a responsibility we should take lightly, but is something that must be done. On Sept 20, 2001 George Bush laid down the path we should walk…
” We will direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network.”
We must have the will to chase down not only al-Queda, but the members of all terrorist groups of global reach so we can slaughter them at every opportunity. We must hunt them through the mountains of Afghanistan, the cities of Iran, the deserts of Iraq, and anywhere else they congregate. Any regime that supports the terrorists will in due time be asked a question: are you with us or with the terrorists? The regimes that give the wrong answer will be toppled, their capacity to wage war destroyed, and their leaders replaced. Day by day, month by month, year by year, these terrorists and the regimes that support them must be wiped out, one after the other, until they no longer have the resources or the will to continue to fight. If our friends, our families, and our country is to be made safe, we must once again convince the world that to murder citizens of the United States is to invite a response so violent and terrible that only the wrath of God himself should be more feared. Until we again show the world our will, our resolve, and our capacity to obliterate our enemies as we did in WW2, our nation will not be secure again.