In my opinion, it matters not that entire departments will choose to observe 9/11.
What matters is how YOU intend to observe it.
On Saturday, I will ride my motorcycle to Springfield, IL where the Illinois Firefighters Memorial sits.
Approximately 20 feet from that memorial sits a large black granite marker dedicated to those who gave their lives on 9/11/01.
I will sit on a bench with my father’s military-issued Bible and read passages that bring me comfort.
I will contemplate the events of that horrific day and how it has affected me personally, because how I feel is deeply personal.
It may not be right, but it certainly is not wrong. It is not a jump off point for debate. It is what it is.
I am not going to the memorial to meet up with like-minded individuals. No cameras; no sound bytes; just me with my thoughts.
You see; there doesn’t have to be throngs of people to make it somehow feel right. They were not with me on that day. I was alone in my car when I heard the news on the car radio. I was listening to Bob and Tom and Christy Lee broke in with the news.
At first; I thought that it was some kind of a twisted joke. Then, I thought that it was some bizarre accident.
It was only when I reached my destination and got to a television set that I knew what we all know today. And my confusion soon turned to bitterness that ANYONE would dare to attack us on our home soil. I couldn’t wait for President Bush to declare war on the terrorists.
Yeah; call it “revenge”. Call it payback. I tend to think that we needed some sort of justice to right this wrong. The senselessness of this attack by radicals called out for it, in my opinion.
How we feel and what we believe is our right. Sometimes, you cannot mount an argument for how we feel; we don’t want or need the debate. It’s one of those “agree to disagree” moments.
It isn’t a political or religious belief. Events have shaped our opinion. Our way of life and the liberties that we enjoy as a free country makes us a target by those who oppose it.
As a people, most of us are not opposed to how others choose or how others are forced to believe what they believe, as long as their beliefs don’t clash with ours’. And when I say “clash”, I simply mean that we remain tolerant of each others’ beliefs.
But, when those beliefs swell into hatred and that hatred turns to violence, then a response becomes not only imminent, but necessary.
We have become a nation that is so concerned about doing what is politically correct that we have forgotten about US. Tolerance is a two-way street and we expect that other cultures will treat us as we would want to be treated. Sorry, but that is not the real world. Countries that have no desire to understand us or our way of life will always be on the periphery to watch us fail and if given the opportunity may even participate in an attempt to destroy us.
And you and I cannot in our very limited roles as citizens in this country persuade others to not bring harm to us, because what they have in THEIR hearts are personal to them. They don’t wish to argue or debate that. It is what it is. They will not walk away, believing to “agree to disagree”. It goes much deeper than that.
So, we put our trust in our elected leaders to make those choices and it may be a response that we are completely opposed to on a philosophical level. We cannot change the way that they think or what they believe. We can only defend ourselves and hopefully, that will not change the way that we choose to live our lives. We don’t have to fear them, but we certainly need to keep our eyes on them.
Take note that I have resisted using the term “enemy”, because quite frankly, I think our country is still somewhat confused over exactly who is the enemy. At one time, I thought it was Osama bin Laden and his followers. It sure looked like it after 9/11, but then, we took a detour into Iraq.
In the meantime, North Korea and Iran have been building their nuclear capabilities into what could become a viable threat to our national security and with that a return to the days of the Cold War.
We should never forget 9/11 and we should also never forget that there are those who may look to repeat it or worse.
And I take that both seriously and quite personally.
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