Having served at two of the three 9/11 sites, the Pentagon and the hallowed ground at Shanksville, PA, I have an indelible image of the horror, destruction, and humility that a heretofore invincible nation suffered on that otherwise beautiful fall day. We were convinced that no one would ever dare strike our country; no one would ever muster the courage to hit us on our own turf. Oh, how wrong we were.
The enemies of freedom audaciously hit us where it hurt most. They struck the very symbols of democracy that had served for decades as examples to other nations that yearned to follow in our footsteps. We were shocked, as was the rest of the world. We vowed to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
It's been close to a decade since that infamous event occurred and what bothers me most is that the very thing that allowed the attack to occur has yet to be remedied. The bureaucracy that chokes intelligence agencies still exists - it remains a cumbersome apparatus at best - with each agency reluctant to share information with the others. An umbrella agency, the TSA, has compounded matters by creating an additional level of red tape and ambiguous channels to follow. There is seemingly nothing that can be accomplished in an expeditious manner. We defer to political correctness rather than enforcing our already quite adequate laws, yet we amend and pass new legislation to ensure no one person feels uncomfortable. We inconvenience thousands of travelers with ridiculous and often times inadequate screening, when we know who it is that should be screened. We needlessly single out our elders in wheel chairs or walking with canes, and force them to submit to humiliating additional screening. It's totally unacceptable, time consuming, and symbolic of a failed system.
What is most frustrating and embarrassing about America, post 9/11, is the gigantic excavation that remains at ground zero and which cries out to every American each day: "Look how we brought you to your knees!" It took only eighteen months to rebuild the Pentagon. Construction is already underway to build a memorial to Flight 93; the initial phase of the permanent memorial will be dedicated September 11, 2011. And when will the Towers be rebuilt? The answer to that question is lost somewhere in the layers of government bureaucracy which places more importance on environmental impact studies, building permits, union participation, and the construction of a Mosque just a couple of blocks from the site of the worst devastation in our nation's modern history. Best guesstimates are in the range of fifteen to twenty years before something fills the hole.
What lessons have we learned? What have we gleaned from the failures that allowed cretins from a third world country to easily penetrate our armor? Seemingly not enough to prevent another attack. Our enemies continue to probe us, yet our leaders brush the failed attempts aside as insignificant or the act of a lone individual with no ties to terrorism. Like ostriches with their heads in the sand, our elected officials pursue socialist agendas rather than strengthening our borders and national security. When we as a citizenry object to their misplaced priorities, we are criticized and labeled as gun-toting, Bible thumpers with an agenda.
Post 9/11 thoughts? We've lost our way, but we're not too far into the woods that we can't find our way out. It will take individuals who are strong in character and faith to lead the way; both law enforcement and non-law enforcement. There's too much at stake to be complacent. Apathy equals compliance to all things and all people. How do you help? By not being a member of the herd - by being a leader and setting the bar higher not lower. Lower standards mean mediocrity. We're not a middle of the road country; we are an exceptional people. Let's act that way. God bless America!