Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Daniel J. Summers
Patriot Day. 9/11. The day the world stopped turning. Whatever you call it, today is a day of remembrance. Remember those who died for the crime of being on-time to work that day. Remember those who loved those who died; every year is a new time to be reminded of their loss.
In the remembering, though, we would be remiss if we did not remember the complacency which left us vulnerable, and the lack of response to previous attacks that left the attackers emboldened. I fear that, 12 years removed from that day, we are once again sliding into that complacency; we're war-weary, as evidenced by the general public's opposition to any action in Syria. I'm right there with them; I have no desire to continue or start any conflict, I simply want to live in peace.
However, peace requires vigilance against those who would use our peace and freedom against us. It also requires vigilance against those who would restrict our freedom in the name of peace. And, so, we will never see true peace while evil remains with us. Earlier this year, Boston showed us that just because we've “won” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the problem of terrorism persists. We are stuck with evil for the rest of our nation's existence; my hope is that, doing my part for my generation, we can push that succumbing to evil out to many, many years in the future.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Daniel J. Summers
To the unholy alliance of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, I just have one question:
Are you enjoying your 72 raisins?
Never again. And if, by reason of treachery or covert actions, this does occur again, rest assured that your actions will lead to your fate matching that of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
(In prior years, I have written about remembering this travesty, the importance of persevering to defeat those who perpetrated this, and remembering how I felt on that day. It was also two years ago when I profiled Louis Neil Mariani, one of the innocent Americans killed 10 years ago today. All these still apply. But, for today, my fist is in the air; I'm still angry, and I regret that we cannot exhume every terrorist we've dispatched in the intervening 10 years, resuscitate them, and kill them again.)
Yesterday was a great day for the United States of America. In case you (like this guy used to do) have been living in a cave the past few days, the al-Qaeda leader behind the 9/11 terror attacks, Osama bin Laden, has been killed. After a nearly 10-year manhunt, most Americans are joyful today. While his death will not bring about the end of terrorism, it is an important symbolic victory in the continuing (if not in name) War on Terror. From the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, to the 2000 USS Cole bombing, Osama bin Laden had hit at American interests several times. 9/11 was the straw that broke the camel's back, and we began trying to get him in earnest. I have great hopes that the intel that was gathered during the mission will enable us to complete the work of dismantling the terror network for good.
Pakistan, you've got some questions to answer as well. Why did it take us not telling you about an operation for it to finally work?
And, a note to my Christian friends quoting Proverbs 24:17-18…
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
and turn away His anger from him.
Is the Lord going to bring Osama bin Laden back to life? I think not. This act was an act of vengeance, I'll not argue that point; however, it was also an act of defense. I will sleep better knowing that this person has begun meeting justice, and will be meeting it for eternity. As a Christian, I am sad that another soul has died without Christ; however, nothing I read in Scripture indicates that evil has unlimited chances to repent. In fact, the Bible says that all men are without excuse. His death will save lives long-term.
I leave you with the scene unfolding as David and the Israelite army return from battle, David having just slain Goliath.
6 As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated….
There is absolutely no reason that we cannot rejoice in this military victory for our nation. As a nation, we haven't had a lot of bright spots lately, so this one is probably amplified because of that. God has delivered him into our hands - why should we not rejoice?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Daniel J. Summers
Today is 9 years removed from September 11th, 2001. There is a lot going on today - fall Saturdays are typically sports days, and today is no different. There are lots of big match-ups in college football, and NASCAR wraps up its regular season tonight, locking in the drivers that will be competing for the championship over the following 10 races. There was a lot going on 9 years ago as well, although as a Tuesday, that day's scheduled entertainment was in music, not sports; Michael W. Smith's Worship and Enya's A Day Without Rain were both released on that date. (It's almost as if God knew that we were going to need them in the weeks to come.)
Of course, I'm not writing today to celebrate the 9th anniversary of Worship, though that album did revolutionize Christian music (not the first time Michael W. Smith had done that). It is remembered for the actions of a rogue band of terrorists, who turned that day into a day of great loss for our nation. It is remembered for the collapses in security that led to what is still both the worst terrorist attack on America, and the worst airline disaster in our history.
There are lots of directions that this post could go. I could talk about the absolutely horrendous idea of building a worship center for the religion under whose auspices the attacks were carried out mere blocks from the site of the attack; but, from my description, you probably can tell how I feel about that. I could also talk about the idiot in Florida who wanted to have the “Bonfire of the Qur'ans” today; but, again, I've probably communicated how I feel just now. I am thankful to God that he has decided against this.
But, today, in between games, cookouts, and races, all I'd like for us all to do is remember. Remember the lives of those who were simply doing their job that sunny September morning. Remember the lives of the police and fire personnel who ran into the building when others were running out. Remember those who were left with the choice of staying where they are and being burned to death, or jumping 100 stories to their death. Remember how the only thing you wanted to do was hold your family tight. Remember the over 3,000 military personnel who have lost their lives in the aftermath of this attack, in counter offenses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember the pain. That pain reminded people just how good we have it here, and for a time, united nearly all of us around the defense of our country.
When you're through remembering, turn to praise. Praise God that we have to go back 9 years to remember a successful large-scale terrorist attack on our soil. Praise God for leaders who made some tough decisions that have resulted in our protection. Praise God for the freedom we still have in this country. And finally, praise God that you were not among those who perished on that day, and resolve to accomplish what He left you here to do.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Daniel J. Summers
Working with mail is a big part of my duties while I'm here. Once a day, we pull a few letters out of a tray and write down where it came from and when it was postmarked - that way, we can tell how long it took to get to us and make sure these letters are flowing. It's interesting to look at the backs of these letters, which we see as we take one from the stack and turn it face-down onto another stack. There are, of course, the "We love you!"s, the "Happy Birthday"s, and the "Come back safe"s. Others have “SWAK” written across the back (Sealed With a Kiss). Today, I saw one that said “Go Vols!” - which I particularly liked.
Underneath that letter, the next one on the stack had printed across the bottom “Do Not Bend.” I'm sure that this wasn't an encouragement to the troops - there were probably photos in the envelope, so they didn't want them bent. But, on this 4th Patriot Day, 5 years after the attacks on September 11th, 2001, I think it is fitting advice for all of us.
The enemy we face is not ourselves. There are some among us who are going too far, but as we demonstrated with Abu Ghraib, we are willing to punish those who do. There are also some among us who intend us harm; that's for certain. However, there is a religious group that is not content to have their countries for their religious views, and live peacefully with the rest of the world. They want us dead because we do not believe the way they do. Our nation has decided (rightly, I believe) that we should take this fight to them, that we would rather fight on their soil than on ours.
I have not had access to ABC television, so I have not seen The Path to 9/11, although I have heard a lot about it. It sounds like an important film, one based on the research of the 9/11 commission, that dramatizes the failings in leadership that led up to this attack. Of course, it's really easy to connect dots in hindsight - but the barriers that had been erected to stop information sharing did much more harm than good. Both Presidential administrations #42 and #43 are criticized for their lack of taking the issue seriously, and doing what needed to be done. Thankfully, #43 has made a nice recovery, and we are now prosecuting the war on terror as we should.
We Americans have short memories - and since, for all but a few of us, this war isn't really impacting our daily lives, it is easy to grow lax, and forget that we were not the ones who started this war. But, we are the ones who will finish it. There has not been a major terror attack in this country in the five years since 9/11, and it is not because they haven't been planned. Time and time again, dedicated professionals in the CIA and FBI have been uncovering these plots, and stopping them. Every terrorist killed in Afghanistan or Iraq is one fewer terrorist that will try something - and while it's true that some cultures produce these terrorists, that's just another reason why we must continue, we must press forward, and we must prevail.
Do not forget why we are at war. Do not think about giving up before the job is done. And, yes, as the letter writer said so unknowingly yet eloquently - do not bend.