Note from Norm: All We Are In The World Is Americans
Nearly 81 years ago the United States was viciously attacked at Pearl Harbor in an assault that would be forever enshrined in our national consciousness as a “…date that will live in infamy.”
Twenty-one years ago the United States found itself, almost sixty years after Pearl Harbor, facing another “…date that will live in infamy.” with attacks on American soil in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania.
In commemorating both of these dates in American History it strikes me that during the worst of our nation’s times we also found the best of who we were, are, and can be as Americans.
With bombs falling from the sky and torpedoes tearing through the water and destroying naval ships and human lives at Pearl Harbor, brave American men and women fought back against the sneak attack on our nation. They leapt into the burning water to save others, took up arms to protect their fellow American, and climbed into the cockpit of planes to take to the sky and bring the battle to those who attacked us.
Two such pilots, George Welch, and Kenneth Taylor, both less than a year out of pilot training, took it upon themselves to rush to planes, take to the sky, and confront their nation’s attackers head on. Without orders, and without any actual combat duty, Welch and Taylor shot down enemy planes in their p-40 fighter planes. Low on ammunition they returned to base, were upbraided by a senior officer for their brazen act of bravery, and as Japanese fighters attacked the airfield and people scattered, Welch and Taylor took to the air again.
And, after their second foray into battle, they returned to base before taking to the air a third time. To learn more about these remarkable American Heroes on a day of American Heroes check out this link: Pearl Harbor Hero Stories: George Welch & Kenneth Taylor | EAA Warbirds of America (warbirds-eaa.org)
On 9/11 as planes tore into the World Trade Center Twin Towers and slammed into the Pentagon, there were American Heroes waging their own battle in the skies. Minnesota native Todd Beamer and thirty-nine passengers and crew found themselves on a hijacked plane potentially heading to the nation’s capital or the White House.
Aware that other planes, flown by terrorists, had attacked other major national landmarks killing and injuring thousands, Beamer and his fellow passengers were forced into the back of United Flight 93, and began to plot a plan to regain control of the plane from terrorists in the cockpit.
Beamer, along with Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick, formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers. They were joined by other passengers, according to investigations conducted after 9/11, that included Lou Nacke, Rich Guadagno, Alan Beaver, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, Linda Gronlund, and William Cashman, along with flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and CeeCee Lyles.
Together, these frightened but courageous individuals began discussing their options and voting on a course of action before ultimately deciding to storm the cockpit and take over the plane.
With Beamer’s rallying cry of “Let’s Roll!” and Burnett’s determined last words to his wife on the phone “Don’t worry, we’re going. to do something!” the passengers rushed forward to thwart the plans of the terrorists and deter the plane from its likely intended targets.
Cockpit voice recorders give ample evidence of the tenacity and courage of these American Heroes as they forced the terrorists to turn the plane away from its destination and bring it down into the ground killing all aboard but saving countless thousands of lives.
Every single day somewhere in America, or around the world, there are American men and women who are defending the United States of America and its values. Whether it is our men and women in law enforcement or those serving in our nation’s military, they perform their duty with selfless devotion to their fellow Americans.
There are also the countless millions of Americans whose simple acts of kindness or heroism don’t make the front-page news but whose selfless devotion to their fellow Americans is the DNA that holds us together as a nation.
Those who attacked America on 12/7 and 9/11 weren’t simply focused on murdering human beings. They were intent on destroying something that human beings cannot live without: Freedom and Liberty.
America’s values were under attack those days and make no mistake they are under attack every single day by our enemies who are determined to do more than simply kill human beings. America is anathema to the repression and oppression they seek to impose upon the world.
Twenty-one years ago, in a speech before a Joint Session of Congress after the attacks of 9/11, President George W. Bush made it clear the battle facing Americans:
“These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us because we stand in their way.
We’re not deceived by their pretenses to piety.
We have seen their kind before. They’re the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.”
Almost eighty-one years ago, in a speech before Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, said:
“The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation. As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”
From Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and every attack on America since then, and ahead of us, it will be the American people, in our righteous might, who will ensure victory of our values and ideals against those who seek to destroy who we are, what we are and all that we stand for in the world.