Ten years ago today, I was wrapping up a family vacation in Orlando, FL following a deployment to the middle east. Up to that point, America had pretty much succeeded at ensuring that when we had to engage our enemies, we always played the “away game.” But on September, 11th 2001 America would experience the kind of “homecoming” that we never wanted.
As we were packing our bags to go to the airport for the trip home, we had CNN playing in the background. I was brushing my teeth when my wife said that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center, which immediately caught my attention. I walked into the room and was staring at the image of the first tower. I saw that the sky was clear, which made the hair on my neck stand up. Having flown into NY a time or two, I knew that especially on a clear day one would have to try pretty hard to hit the WTC unless there was some greater problem beyond your control. As my mind was following this train of thought, second plane flew into the picture and struck the second tower, eliminating any thought that this had been an accident.
Next came the images we will never forget. Images of firemen and police officers rescuing people and moving toward the scene as others fled. Images of people trapped in the upper floors jumping to their deaths. Images of the towers collapsing. Images of the Pentagon attack. Images of confusion, death, and destruction. And most infuriating of all, images of celebration by our enemies.
What began to form inside me, and evidently inside millions of Americans, was a cold resolve combined with the growing flame of anger, and a frustration at being unable to immediately so SOMETHING. In the days and weeks that followed, we had to figure out how to get home or wherever we were going. We had to figure out how the aftermath of the attack was going to change our lives, and our nation. We’re still figuring that out 10 years later.
As we bury 10 years of 9/11 memories and move on with life, I challenge you to never forget. Never. Never forget that it was radical muslims who attacked us first. Never forget that they are still plotting ways to attack and subjugate us, both through violence, and by using our own kindness and tolerance against us from within. If we wish to survive as a nation, we must understand that there are limits to tolerance. Tolerating things we disagree with is a basic American principle. However, tolerating things that will destroy us is just suicidal and stupid.
Sir Karl Popper summed it up very well when he said “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.“
Never forget. Never.
Watch this video of Americans jumping to their deaths and impacting the ground, and look at the images of the attack, and NEVER FORGET WHO DID THIS.