11 September 2020

NOTE FROM NORM: We Are An American Nation

It has been said that time heals all wounds. But the wounds inflicted by the terror attack 19 years ago should always hurt- so that we never forget.

That dreadful day on 9/11/2001 demands we give it it’s full measure of respect and dignity.

It was one of America’s worst days.

Yet, in the midst of overwhelming tragedy, it also has shown the best of America.

All of us, no matter where we were, were transfixed by the sight of iconic towers having holes punched in them by airplanes filled with innocent human beings, and handful of madmen.

The towers burned.  Then they fell.

In them were thousands of other innocent human beings.

Running up the stairs to save them before they too would die in the collapsing inferno were men and women of law enforcement, firefighters, volunteers, average people trying to do above average things: running towards the danger, to save others, rather than running from the danger.

We gasped as the towers fell.

The panic rose in our throats as we learned of plane slamming into the nation’s most secure military facility.

Our hearts broke as we learned that other regular folks, awoken to the danger they faced, said “Let’s roll” and fought back against the cowards who were calling on God to honor their Evil- and they all perished.

It was murder.  Cold-blooded.  Cruel.  Unfathomable.

People of all faiths were murdered that day.  Muslims, Christians, Jews and along with them agnostics and atheists, found their lives, hopes and dreams silenced.

Some instantly.  Others after long, terrible, and horrible moments in the air, or on the collapsing steel and concrete of buildings.

I find myself on this day having to close my eyes and take a breath.

It’s important to me as a parent, a grandparent, a husband, a brother, a son and as an American to rekindle those feelings I felt on this day.

It’s important to me to remember the solemn vow that our political leaders made that we would never again allow this act of violence to be visited upon this nation.

Across the world there were then, and remain, those who want to destroy this nation, what we believe, what we stand for and all that matters to freedom and liberty here and around the world.

Like the Greatest Generations before them, young men and women were called upon to engage in a Global War on Terror to protect our freedom, our liberty, and our values.

Not just for America, but for our allies as well.

In the 19 years since 9/11, this nation has learned lessons from mistakes we made early in our fight against the scourge of global terrorism.

Yet, the mistakes made in the aftermath of 9/11, like those made after Pearl Harbor, were ones done in a Fog of War we were still trying to understand.

Our obligation after 9/11, as it was our obligation after Pearl Harbor, was to do better, be better and act better as people, and as a nation.

Today, in the midst of a different kind of terror, one that nature has seemingly unleashed on our nation and the world, it is an important time for us to take a step back and reflect on what we did right as a country on 9/11 and afterwards, and what we could have done better.

We came together.  People of all faiths, people of no faith, Democrats and Republicans, people from big cities and little cities and every kind of city in between.

We stood together.  We mourned together.  We fought together.

We were Americans, together.

Whether the terror facing America is man-made or nature-made, there’s no reason we cannot rise above it and emerge stronger and better than ever.

From a war to gain our independence to a war to ensure the independence of all people to a Depression to every form of conflict and division in between, America has never been better than when America comes together.

Today will, can and should, like Pearl Harbor, be a day that lives in infamy.

Yet, like Pearl Harbor, it should be the day that reminds us that an American nation attacked by man-made terror or nature-made terror is a nation prepared to do what it must do to defend and protect itself.

We do not go gently into that good night.

We do not accept our fate being dictated by any person, or force, other than ourselves.

We are America.

And on this day, of all days, we should never forget what it means to be America.

We are not and have not been perfect.

But we are an American nation that remains the most generous and beneficent nation on earth. We are still the shining city on the hill that is the beacon of hope and liberty for so many of the impoverished and enslaved around the world.

On this day of infamy, let us never forget that America is worth fighting for- that the sacrifice of those who died on 9/11- and the sacrifice of so many others who preceded and followed in defense of our Nation- will have not been in vain.

And let us pray that the capacity to come together, as Americans, to fight existential threats is still within us.