America, you fell for it again. You got caught up in the 2008 hope-n-change express. You saw the blank slate candidate, and instead of saying “Hey, there’s nothing there,” you sketched out exactly what you wanted him to be. You elected him. (Historically!) There was great rejoicing that we were finally no longer a racist country…
…until the first person opposed him. Then, there were still racists. The hope and change of bipartisanship and unity fell by the wayside before it even got started. “Let’s all get along” gave way to “we won.” There more we learned about him, the more we realized that maybe we’d been duped. His accomplices in the Senate and House gave him a huge stimulus that made stuff better, or so we were told; we had to keep being told, because we just weren’t seeing it. They gave him a monstrosity of a health care bill that amounted to a government takeover of 1/6th of the entire US economy, timed to take effect a year after either his reelection or his loss, thus isolating him from ballot-box accountability. The House was held to some accountability.
Then, there were the gaffes; he was a novice, and it was showing big time. He appointed a tax cheat for Secretary of the Treasury. His Attorney General declined to prosecute the New Black Panther party, accused of voter intimidation in 2008, then went on to suggest trying War on Terror suspects in New York, stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, and as term 1 drew to a close, oversaw Operation Fast and Furious, which resulted in at least one US death and many more Mexican police deaths. When he wasn’t busy with all that, he sued one of the states over a law that his office had the responsibility to enforce, but did not. Occupy Wall Street, while a state matter as far as enforcement, got administration support. Joe “Gaffetastic” Biden was his running mate, for crying out loud! And, no, he hadn’t learned.
Of course, if you get your news in a half-hour early evening telecast, you probably weren’t aware of much of that.
He then turned to women, eager to exploit them while, at the same time, claiming that Republicans want to suppress them. Exploited or suppressed - maybe we haven’t come a long way, baby. Of course, this wasn’t how it was pitched; it was pitched as women’s health. Providing abortion and contraception, at no cost, was the only way to prove you weren’t against women. And, if you called out their spokespeople on their lack of discretion, you got branded a sexist. Conveniently, this is what makes the evening news.
As 2012 approached, the other side was in disarray, but so was the now not-so-blank slate. Despite massaging the number, unemployment was still above 8%. The cells at Guantanamo Bay were still in use, and Afghanistan went from looking stable to showing some cracks, as Afghani troops began firing on our troops over there to train them. How did they explain all this? “Well, it was worse than we thought. We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet.”
So, the slate was filled in with ineffectiveness and broken promises. He went up for a vote, and America picked him again.
(This next part was kicking around in my head before the election, but having things to do, I didn’t get it written down. It fits here, though.) I certainly hope and pray that this isn’t a permanent change, but the American people have mistaken arrogance for confidence, and intransigence for steadfastness. They have stuck their heads in the sand while Obama promises to give them jobs while demonizing the very people who would give those jobs. Obama wanted fewer rich people, Romney wanted fewer poor people, and the country chose Obama.
Hang on, America. You’re about to get exactly that for which you voted.
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.
(This one’s long, but I hope you take the time to read it and think…)
Three years ago, our country was attacked. It was not the first terrorist attack on our interests, or even the first attack on our own soil. But three years ago was, by far, the most successful (from the terrorists’ point of view) attack on us yet. Over 2,500 innocent Americans lost their lives over the span of a few hours. Looking back, the fact that this number is so much lower than it could be (around 100,000 people were employed in the two WTC towers) is due to the grace of God, and the heroic efforts of firemen and policemen who helped thousands of folks flee to safety after the towers and the Pentagon were hit. Still, the fact remains that we were attacked on our own soil, and that attack resulted in a large loss of life.
Sit back from the computer for a minute or two and think back to where you were, and the thoughts that went through your mind that Tuesday morning. I remember very vividly where I was. A co-worker said “someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center!” It clicked for me right away, although it took some time to accept it - with all the talk about it being an accident, I didn’t buy that. Moments later, as we all watched on our IPTV windows, we saw the second plane hit. All the talk of an accident evaporated in an instant - we were under attack. More bad news - another one hit the Pentagon - was there an explosion outside the State Department? - a plane went down in Pennsylvania - FAA grounds all flights - international flights are turned back. We went to FPCON Delta, the post-attack posture under which every vehicle coming on and off base is searched, and, for a time, no traffic is allowed on or off base.
I also remember clearly that all these things weren’t what was foremost in my mind. My oldest child was going to school only during the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so they weren’t gone when it happened. I live on base, so I knew that I wouldn’t have to leave the base, and neither would my family. I was still concerned for them, though - what if our base is on the target list? At this point, we didn’t know nearly as much about al-Qaeda as we do now. I came home and just held my wife, then my kids. My second child was barely over 1, so he was pretty much oblivious; but my 2 1/2-year-old (who even then was very bright) couldn’t understand why they would fly those planes into those buildings. He also didn’t understand why mom and dad were crying, or near tears, the whole time.
I’m going to link that amazing site that’s linked at the bottom of the page - never forget what happened that day. Since that day, we’ve engaged in two major theater wars - one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Despite warnings of quagmires the likes of which we haven’t seen since Vietnam, we have been successful in both these operations, installing democracy and freedom into two areas of the world that desperately need it. During that time, we’ve lost 1,000 combined in those two theaters. In Vietnam, that number was over 58,000. (source: DoD) It’s a tribute to our men and women in uniform who have shown ceaseless dedication to their country, and to the development and use of the best tools of war on the planet. Although some may classify me in that category, as stateside support, the only thing I’ve sacrificed for this war is a few longer hours. I am deeply grateful to my comrades in arms who are out there in the desert, on the lines, loading bombs, driving patrols, doing everything they can to keep us free and return home to their families.
This is the reason it is so important to have a leader in this country who is not afraid to stand up to terrorists. When the WTC was attacked the first time in 1993, we did nothing. When the Kenyan embassies were bombed, we did nothing. When the USS Cole was bombed, we did nothing. Could we not see this coming? When I was in school, I was told that studying history was important, because “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” I believe that. We’ve seen what inaction brings, and we cannot afford inaction any more, not even if it’s cloaked in the term “diplomacy.” Since 9/11/01, al-Qaeda has struck in Bali, Madrid, and most recently, in Russia, as well as cooperating with Hezbollah in bringing terrorism to Israel.
Americans are, collectively, the most kind-hearted people in the world. We recognize the true threat that lies before us, and we are choosing to take the fight to them. I have a really hard time not questioning the intelligence of someone who thinks we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a dictator who used instant execution, limb removal, and rape as methods of governmental punishment. He used WMD on his own people in the north, and was completely uncooperative with United Nations inspectors who were verifying that he had stopped production. And the “there were no WMDs” crowd doesn’t seem to consider enough Sarin gas to kill 60,000, or a large stash of low-enriched unranium, to be weapons of mass destruction. I say to those folks, how would like for what we’ve found to be detonated or released in your neighborhood? Would it become a WMD then?
So, we’ve got a dictator, who rapes, mutilates, and kills his own people, who has taken a hit out on a sitting United States President, and who is sympathetic to terrorists. Even the most obtuse among us should be able to see that we do not need that man in possession of WMDs, or even parts that can be made into such. Russia is our ally, and even they have some suitcase nukes they can’t find. How much more easily would it be for nuclear or chemical weapons to find their way into terrorists’ hands if the leadership of the country just hands it to them?
During the Republican National Convention, just after President Bush’s speech, I listed to the talking heads dissect it. (I think the channel was on CBS.) The folks there said that the parts of the speech that dealt with domestic issues got applause, but with nowhere near the passion of the applause in the national defense portion. I think that’s because the vast majority of Republicans (and a lot of Democrats, which is why I predict Bush will roll in November) know that without a secure national defense, domestic programs are meaningless. You may have seen this, but I’m posting it here in case you haven’t. Stephen Ambrose said “It is the soldier, not the poet, who gives us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the reporter, who gives us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us freedom to protest. It is the soldier who serves beneath the flag, who salutes the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives the demonstrator the right to burn the flag.”
So, on this Patriot Day 2004, remember the lives of those whose crime was only that they got to work early that morning. Remember the 1,000+ defenders of freedom who have lost their lives while ensuring that anything like 9/11 never happens again. Remember the sons and daughters who will be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, for the first time, without their mom or dad. Remember the spouses, who have lost a life partner and best friend. Thank the Lord that you live in a country that does not let these acts of aggression stand, and thank the Lord that George W. Bush made the tough decision to defend our nation. May God bless this great nation.