A Day We Will Never Forget

Joleen and I celebrated our 16-year wedding anniversary this weekend, which means that it has been sixteen years since the defining day of our generation, the terrorist attacks against America we simply call, “9/11.”  Being in the air en route to one’s honeymoon during the worst attack on American soil in history provides a correlation or association that will not easily lead to memory lapse.  And just as I will never forget my wedding day, I will never forget the events that took place a few days later either.

I wish more than anything that the only sentiment to share this morning was the sacred honor and memory of those who lost their lives that day.  I wish that intuitive and crucial gratitude for those first responders who sacrificially ran into death’s door out of duty, rather than away from it, were the sole message of this morning’s reflection. Those men and women who lost their lives desperately trying to save those trapped in the building are heroes, and America is wise to never forget them.

In fact, there is a sense in which we have done well to not forget any of the roughly 3,000 human lives lost.  The 9/11 memorial and museum at the spot of ground zero where the twin towers once stood pays homage to their lives, and memorializes the event that took them.  It is a powerful experience, one I am glad my family shared this summer, and one I am impressed has not been diluted over distorted by the winds of political correctness and historical revisionism.  When one visits the 9/11 memorial, they know exactly what happened, exactly who did it, and exactly why.  The grounds in which nearly 3,000 lives were taken don’t tolerate moral ambiguity or confusion.  I suspect someone entering that spot spouting “blame America first-ism” would be struck by lightning, or at least punched square in the mouth.

But our national duty to have properly memorialized the events of that day and the lives lost is barely partially covered by the creation of a museum and monument.  The true duty American leadership and the American people have in response to the attack of 9/11 is to understand it intellectually, ideologically, but even viscerally.  And the duty extends to a deep and lasting commitment to doing all one can do post-9/11 to not allow there to be another attack.  To not allow the same enemy which launched the 9/11 attack to reign terror upon us for a generation through other attacks, even ones that lack the gravitas of the 9/11 event.  Prevention of a second attack – or desire for prevention of a second attack – are themselves inadequate as well, in so much as they sound merely transactional.

Fundamentally, a proper vigilance for the future, and memory of the past, means enough of this silly, trite, preposterous blather about the real nature of the enemy who attacked us on 9/11, and struck a deeper cut into the fabric of our national stability and well-being than any other enemy to date.  While people of all shapes and sizes in terms of ideology and mere personality may feel better about themselves by diluting and diminishing the basic and undeniable reality that there exists a massive, and I mean massive, worldwide movement of Islamic Jihadists whose sole aim is destruction of the west, their ignorance, their laughable moral equivocating, their fearful capitulation to the most evil force of our times – do nothing but mock the memory of 9/11, and insult the honor of those whose lives were lost.  This game so many Americans are playing now diminishing the gravity of the jihadist threat, or playing dumb about the nature of the theological and ideological roots behind it, needs to stop, now.  Our national memory malfunctions after various national tragedies are inexcusable enough, but never more so when the memory we are talking about was a wholesale attack on the American way of life by a very serious, very organized, very committed, very durable, and very identifiable enemy.  How various people discuss or define these issues are not mere matters of political fine-tuning; they are direct reflections of moral courage and identity.

We are in a battle for our civilization, a battle which too many feel numb or apathetic about because of the very comforts and securities our superior civilization has provided.  The post-9/11 world is one in which we must never forget that the most evil force of our time has called for our extinction, and has done so because they detest our values, and because their own values are decrepit to the core.  There is no room for moral ambiguity – in the civilizational battle in which we find ourselves, and will find ourselves for many years to come – our side is represented by the courage of first responders who died on 9/11; their side is represented by those who slashed women’s throats and take away moms and dads from children, thousands at a time.

The political and cultural left has found itself in the most difficult of quandaries one could even make up since 9/11.  Their lack of moral clarity has created a baffling impulse that seeks to put Islamic radicalism into a code of protected classes, even as Islamic radicalism has sought to behead women and gays that the cultural left has sworn a common cause with.  The gymnastics these dunces go through to avoid stating the obvious are not amusing; they are tragic.  And they are a despicable way to remember and honor the memory of 9/11.

So while my pleas for moral clarity may be no more heard or appreciated today than they were yesterday, may today be a day of honor and solemn memory for all who lost their lives on 9/11.  And for the sake of our children, our communities, and our national experiment that represents the greatest triumph for human flourishing in the history of civilization, may we never forget.