Unspeakable Evil
by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Editor

Richard Johnstone
Richard Johnstone

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.

These international 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.

“The Greatest 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.


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