In Honor And Memory Of 9/11

The power of fear and hate-mongering is as prevalent today as it has been since the McCarthy Era of the 1950’s. Sadly, it has impacted the ability of our first African-American to meet the promises and expectations of a nation that voted overwhelmingly to support him. But with the power of right-wing media, the so-called “Tea Party” and the hate-baiting Republican leadership of today, it has challenged us as a nation to look and think beyond the “reptilian mind” and remember what this country has and must continue to stand for. As we have just commemorated the 9th anniversary of the horror of September 11th, we must stay focused on what this nation means to us and what it must represent for our children and our children’s children as we remember that 9 years ago it seemed that the world stood still—at least for the people of New York City and all Americans and good people of the world
9/11 was one of those days in history that is seared into the minds of those of us alive to experience it. The horror, the devastation, the shear power of two huge edifices crumbling under the weight of unimaginable heat created by the intentional act of flying two large airplanes into buildings filled with people and activity.
For many of us, we have had other moments where the world seemed to stop. For our most senior population they remember “A day that will live in Infamy,” December 7th, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor that marked our reluctant nation’s entry into World War Two; the moment we learned of the assassination of the young president, John F. Kennedy, some 47 years ago this November 22nd; the explosion of the Shuttle Challenger as the country watched on live television. Perhaps there are others, but these were the collective experience and horror of a nation, one people united by death and carnage that we knew would change the course of our lives and our nation’s history.
It is how we responded to those tragedies that have been the hallmark of who we are as a nation. The call to arms to join the rest of the world to beat back tyranny, fascism, genocide and mass murder of millions that marked the Nazis of the 1930s and 1940’s; the implementation of a fallen president’s dream of racial equality that occurred in his honor with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, shepherded by his successor, Lyndon Johnson; the effort to rebuild and continue our space shuttle program in memory of those who lost their lives on the Challenger……all efforts going forward to exemplify the best of what our nation has to offer and the character of our country.
So here we are, nine years after 9/11, when a group of Saudi Arabian -based terrorists, under the guise of religious war or “jihad” hijacked a religion and an airplane to try to take down our nation. They failed, or at least they failed then.
We see their hatred for our nation as inexplicable, wrong, intolerant and fanatically based. We believed that Osama Bin-Laden wanted to destroy our country but we would not be bowed.
The question is, though, did this terrible act of terrorism and mass murder undermine the fabric of this nation? Has Bin Laden won in his battle to undermine the very essence of our society—where freedom and opportunity prevail over dogma and repression of the rights of people who do not share a fanatical view of the world?
There are probably many who would argue that Bin Laden did, in fact, change the face of this nation—we are more fearful, we spend billions on “homeland security.” We have been willing to give up many of our freedoms in exchange for safer travel, but until recently we were unwilling to succumb to the same intolerance and hatred that fueled the acts of insanity on 9/11.
So what has happened 9 years later is that we now find ourselves with extremists here in our own country, our own clergy, our own political leaders, talking with the same intolerance, bigotry and ignorance that were and are the hallmarks of the terrorist fanatics who tried to bring our nation to its knees on 9/11. They failed. New York City continues to be an incredible melting pot of people from all walks of life, all cultures and all parts of the world who live in relative harmony together in a few square miles of teeming humanity.
In the 9 years following this unspeakable act, we have elected our first non-white President; our first Woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. We continue to celebrate religious holidays from all religions of the world without violence.
But if we allow the intolerance of small-minded and small-thinking so-called religious leaders of our own, fear-mongers like Newt Gingrich and others to feed the fears and prejudices of Americans to deny the placement of a mosque blocks from the Twin Towers, to burn other people’s Bibles because they are not our words or beliefs; to attack others because they don’t look like us, or think like us, then we will have lost and Osama Bin Laden and his band of lunatics will have accomplished years later what they could not accomplish by blowing up buildings—-the demise of the American spirit, its sense of justice, tolerance and freedom that are the qualities that threaten the fanatics and ideologues of the world. We will have become them.
We cannot let that happen. Instead, we must renew our commitment to justice, tolerance, religious freedom and a sense of community. We must remember that what has made our nation great, what our brave fighting men and women have given their lives for is our freedom, our liberty, our right to worship as we see fit and the notion that we are all equals entitled to dignity and respect. That is what has made our country great and we must remember that even at difficult moments like these. This should be the legacy of 9/11.

2 thoughts on “In Honor And Memory Of 9/11

    This is a great piece – I wish it was winning the debate, and I am not giving up that ultimately it will.

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