The world changed
dramatically and perhaps permanently last month. In the weeks since
September 11, we’ve all gone through the stages of grief: numb denial,
bitter anger, deep sadness, gradual acceptance. Acceptance that we’re in
the early stages of a long fight against unspeakable evil. Ours is a
shadowy enemy that’s cunning and cruel, spiritually bankrupt yet heavily
bankrolled, insane yet patient, not just willing but wanting to die to
cause as much death and destruction to America.
As President Bush so aptly
noted, though, in the days soon after terrorists turned commercial
airliners into guided missiles: “They’ve roused a mighty giant.” And
that they have, as America’s military forces—by far the finest in the
world—begin to root out and bring to justice the international network
of terrorists whose prior acts of barbarism were dwarfed in savagery and
size by their despicable acts on that Tuesday last month.
murderers shook our national house, but they didn’t – and can’t –
damage our rock-solid foundation. The cowardly attacks, though, exacted a
horrendous toll of good and decent people in New York and Northern
Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Yet out of the horror of
this agonizing loss of over 6,000 innocent men, women and children, there
are glimmers of hope and heroes aplenty. Americans have rallied in a show
of national unity and pride whose breadth and intensity have not been seen
since World War II. Words are poor symbols indeed to even begin to
describe the heroism of the passengers on United Flight 93, who gave the
last part of their lives to save who-knows-how-many others. And, using
mere words, one can never properly honor those firefighters, police
officers and rescue workers, both those who gave their lives to help
others and those who worked tirelessly to sort through the rubble in the
days following the attack. Americans (thankfully) will likely stop looking
to athletes and actors for role models and will instead recognize that
America’s real heroes reside in police and fire department, rescue
squads, the armed services, volunteer organizations, and in countless
average homes across our wide continent.
And as we have focused or
righteous wrath on lawless international thugs, our citizens have
forgotten superficial differences and come together as Americans. This
massive, blessed country has become something of a big small town. Folks
are looking out for one another more, drawing closer together, working
more for the civic good. Donations of blood, supplies and money poured
into New York and Washington area, even as the stock market was going
down. It’s a tribute to the generosity and caring of the American
spirit, and the strength of the American character.
As we steel ourselves for
a protracted battle against these mass murderers from many countries,
let’s not forget other Americans profoundly affected by the September 11
attacks, such as the 100,000 airline employees who’ve been laid off from
their jobs through no fault of their own. Also, there are the Americans of
Middle Eastern ancestry and those who practice the Muslim faith, who share
with every other American the intense outrage felt toward terrorists and
the unspeakable sadness felt for the victims and their families.
Our fight against evil
will take time. Osama bin Laden is but the most visible crime boss in what
is now a global network of terror, a network that wants to destroy America
and everything we stand for.
Generation” fought a protracted war against a vicious enemy during World
War II, and their dedication and sacrifice resulted in a glorious victory
for freedom around the globe, setting the stage for all that we’ve
enjoyed in the last 56 years. The culmination of their fight was the
celebration of V-E Day in May 1945 and V-J Day three months later.
Sadly, this new war will
likely never have a single “Victory over Terrorism,” or “V-T” Day.
Instead, there will be many, many V-T Days, marking both the close of
every successful battle against this unspeakable evil enemy, and the close
of every blessed day during which there have been no acts of violence
committed against us.