Before September 11, several police officers and I went to Germany and worked with the Polizei. We checked into Hartsfield international airport and walked to our gate. We sat there without a care. No worries about airport safety. No security to speak of. One officer was at the entrance and maybe one per concourse.
We arrived to a bumpy landing in Frankfurt, Germany. We were met at the gate with our hosts. We were ushered through customs without incident. Once inside the airport mall itself I immediately noticed that the Polizei were walked with Heckler Koch MP-5’s. I was shocked you didn’t see that in the states. Security was not taken lightly. I questioned my escort about the patrols. I was told they did not take chances at their airports due to the bombings that had occurred there. They meant what they said and it was clear nothing was taken to chance.
The German people had lived with terror for many years. The Munich Olympics incident was one of the most memorials. In their efforts to be safe a lot of freedoms were taken away, the same freedoms that we had and instilled in them when we helped them rebuild after World War II that we had. They put security on the fore front of their lives. Terrorism to them was an everyday life of vigilance against an ongoing battle. They looked at things in a different way than we did at the time. Who knew that nearly one year later I would see airports with soldiers and police patrolling with M-16’s at their sides?
On 9.11 I was in my office when I got a call from my parents about the plane hitting the Pentagon. My brother was a frequent visitor there in his employment. Of course we could not contact him for many hours. We finally got an email he was okay. That was a relief but, there were thousands more dying in New York, Washington, and a vacant field in Pennsylvania.
Within weeks the first bombs were hitting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The country was united in spirit, determination, and commitment. Flags flew in every yard, business, school, and parks. The good old red, white, and blue was back in business.
As the years have passed we now have dissention in the country. There are people who felt we gave up to much for safety. We have lost a few things but, all in the name of our safety. You see it most every night on the news someone whining about a pat down or, walking through a metal detector. Police officers have walked through more metal detectors than the average person would in several lifetimes. We understand security and the need for it. They dislike the open carry of a tactical rifle by uniformed officers and military. My answer is live with it. We will never be the same. I want my grandchildren and family to be safe.
If some of the experts in terrorism could talk to these folks would understand how serious this war is. Yes I called it war then and war now. We are not the kinder gentler nation we once were. We were attacked on our soil just as we were in World War II. We responded appropriately. Our leaders have handled it well along with a few stumbles along the way but, it took Roosevelt and Truman to get World War II done. This is a different war. Our enemy wore uniforms we knew show they were. Our enemies will use whatever they can to kill us and tear our country down. They are intent on doing it.
This is an on-going war. We will be fighting this one for many years to defeat those who want to tear down the America we had. Our military forces will have to grow. They have been taxed to the limit since this began. Homeland security will have to continue funding to secure our borders and our country. The one thing we cannot forget or forgive is the lives lost on 9.11 and the ones since. We will lose more.
Soon after the attack I talked with my friends in Germany. I told them I truly understood how serious they were with terrorism and what I had seen. Their words were it that was going to happen sooner or later for America. The saddest part is that it will happen again.
I will never forget the scene of the Twin Towers coming down, worrying over a loved one, and what may come next. I will never forget the church service that night where I prayed the policeman’s prayer to the congregation for those who died that day. I pray to this day for the safety of our country and our families.