Eight years ago today, America was awakened to a threat which had been developing for quite some time. 2,974 people (mostly US citizens, but still representing 90 different countries) died in four separate aircraft hijacking attacks – one into the US Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, two into the Twin Towers on Manhattan Island New York, and one more hijacked over the mid Atlantic states before ultimately crashing into a field in rural Pennsylvania. We were all Americans for a few days and weeks. Soon after, we concentrated on finding somebody to blame. Yet rather than targeting an enemy for attacking us, we often preferred to blame our own for negligence.
But these were far more than unprovoked tragedies. The western world was awakened to the fact that there is an underclass of humanity who, for no other reason than that we breathe free, hates us and will devote every last man to killing all those not like them. They do not negotiate, and will only stop when they have exterminated anybody who dares adhere to a different philosophy.
Eight years later, the United States has more than 170,000 forward-deployed troops serving in a two-front campaign commonly known as the War on Terror. Most people have nothing positive to say about their presence. How quickly we forget our own loss of life.
For the better part of a decade, extremists have been flocking to the Middle East to kill Americans. Some have been successful. However, they have largely ignored US consulates, embassies, and our homeland. US forces have kept them preoccupied. The fight, so to speak, was taken to them and distanced from our own backyards. The United States has sustained no serious terrorist attack since September 11th, 2001. This is a magnificent triumph.
Nowhere in the states are there long lines of cars waiting to pass through vehicle checkpoints every few miles. Nor are concrete barriers compartmentalizing entire cities to limit vehicular traffic and reduce the kill radii of VBIEDs and other explosives placed in crowded areas. For the most part, Americans are free to travel throughout their own country without fear of bombs and executions by rogue police or army personnel. Christians aren’t fearful of attacks at churches on Sundays, and nor are Muslims concerned for their safety as they worship on Fridays. Additionally, enhanced stateside security measures have ensured no air hijackings, rendering airlines the safest means of travel once again. As a whole, Americans are free from the bonds of fear. We win.
We win because, while both fronts of the war continue, Americans are still safe, and still welcome to exercise their Constitutional rights to speak, think, and worship freely. They will not receive “guests” in the middle of the night that order them to leave their homes or face immediate death. No Americans have observed as these visitors carve up a child, cooked his flesh, and fed it back to them. Few Americans have suffered the disappearance of a family member, only to find them in a ditch a few days later, dead by execution. NO American has gone to a store or market and experienced a suicide bomber detonating him or herself in their midst. By and large, Americans are still safe, and woefully unaware of how nice it is.
Their safety has been purchased by the efforts and sacrifices of the United States military, which serves as the final line of defense between a free nation and a world which is increasingly dedicated to forcing their way of life on others. They have paid heavily to maintain our freedoms, and no doubt the death toll will continue to rise.
Is it worth it? Yes. And now is not the time to diminish our footprint. Those that hate the United States continue to pose a legitimate threat to our way of life. They are not a class of human with whom to negotiate, for all kindness is misunderstood as weakness. We are best served to continue acting as the merciful warriors we have trained our military to be. We offer clemency to those who wish it, and we kill those who do not. They will not stop until they are dead, so we must hasten that.
There is worldwide concern these days with being internationally liked and understood, but I would argue that it is of greater import to be right, with only moderate regard to how others feel about it. For, we do not simply support the Constitution for ourselves, but as basic human rights applicable to all humanity. Our efforts are not to simply protect our own, but provide freedom for others worldwide. The nature of our ideals requires they be shared.
Clearly, preservation of these ideals comes at high cost, and there are more than 5,000 families in the United States who have lost a loved one in either Iraq or Afghanistan. And more will fall, too. Few servicemembers over here are unfamiliar with the loss of a comrade. It doesn’t get easier, either.
But it must continue, because the threat also continues. Our eyes are now opened to the clear and present danger to our way of life. They can never be shut again, or not at least until there is no enemy. There are humans worldwide that wish to kill us. We must kill them first, for ignoring them simply emboldens them. There is no room for political correctness, because this is not politics; this is war. It is heartwrenching that it took nearly 3,000 innocent lives to awaken us to this threat. It is tragic that the human investment in our national defense has now far exceeded this number. But, it is absolutely self destructive that we are quick to quit the race. Where went our national spirit? Long passed like the memory of two towers crushing thousands, a jet liner plunging into our Pentagon, a famous phone call from Flight 93? We must choose to fight, lest history repeat itself.
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw, All Rights Reserved