A Victory Girls 9/11 Collective: Life After 9/11
A Victory Girls 9/11 Collective: Life After 9/11
As I look back at these last 13 years, I can only weep. After more than a decade of war, with the loss of great blood and treasure, and personal liberties eroded, we aren’t safer today than we were before 9/11. Sure, I’m glad we killed Osama bin Laden and waterboarded the hell out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but frankly the world is a much more dangerous place now, than it was back then. Why? Because terrorism has metastasized.
For years following September 11th, President Bush assured all of us that Islamic extremists represented but a tiny minority of Muslims, remember? And after waging the Global War on Terror for 8 long years, he still felt compelled to say that. Even back then a lot of us knew that wasn’t true, but for the sake of our country, I really did wanted to believe it…
September 11, 2014. Americans across the board are feeling less safe now than any time since the September 11th terrorist attacks because of the rise of ISIS, and their promise of a global Caliphate through any means necessary. As recent as this past July Barack Obama, who’s always ready to defend its principles, declared that Islam shares “the values of peace” with other religions and cultures. Liberals in America continue to defend the “Religion of Peace” while innocents are slaughtered to the point of a near Christian genocide throughout the Middle East, American journalists and children are beheaded, and women and girls sold as Jihadi brides.
“Religion of Peace”? No. I think not.
Islam, to me, after these last 13 years is a primitive blood thirsty power structure, pretending to be a religion, where the idea of “peace” means everyone else in the world is dead. Harsh? Sorry.
Wait… no, I’m not.
In recent months, many Americans throughout our country now see the radical bloodthirsty fanaticism that lies behind ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah and a dozen other Islamist groups creating mayhem throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. Such an observation may be politically incorrect for Barack Obama and some liberals in our country, or the “Blame America First” crowd, but now seems an absolute truth.
This is what I know: we’ve always had a strong American foreign policy brand… that is until Barack Obama and his “peace-through-withdrawal” strategy. He’s a weak leader, whose lack of a firm and decisive foreign policy – coupled with 6 years of foreign policy failures – has directly put all of us (liberal and conservative alike) in a place of danger unlike anything we knew prior to 9/11. His sycophants are complicit in this failure to keep our country safe as well. And what I also know is he’s not a closet Muslim as some believe. Barack Obama is a secular humanist. He admires Islam solely for the manner in which “the faithful” subjugate themselves gladly to an all controlling, all powerful government authority.
So… thirteen years after 9/11 it seems we still can’t manage to have an honest conversation about Islam in this country. For me personally, and I speak only for myself, I can no longer separate the brutal Islamic terror organization ISIS from its broader religious affiliation. Like al-Qaeda before them, I see ISIS as blood thirsty nihilists – locusts – who know only how to destroy. It is infinitely evil to me now.
I do still believe we should continue to live our lives the best way we know how. To work, play, laugh, love. We are Americans, damn it, and we shouldn’t waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our beloved freedom, because of terrorism.
Therefore, the answer: Know thy mortal enemy; kill him or be killed.
On this 13th Anniversary of 9/11, each of us here at Victory Girls have recorded below our thoughts and reflections of how our lives have been affected because of that day and what we’ve learned since. Additionally, Kit has our post of the day, and we have a Victory Girls 9/11 Podcast we hope you’ll listen to featuring Cassy, Catherine, and Deanna.
Please remember with us all we lost 13 years ago, and what we as a country, so desperately need to get back.
I could not separate my life today from 9/11. I knew no one that died in the towers; I had no loved ones on any of the four planes. No family members were stationed at the Pentagon. But 9/11 changed my life forever. The most obvious way was, of course, the loss of innocence. As a senior in high school, war was something to read about in history books. The idea of jihad was something I had never even heard of. The horrific thought of someone flying a plane into a building in order to kill thousands of people was so laughable that when we first heard the news, we all thought it was an accident — a pilot somehow, inexplicably had flown into the north tower. Like everyone else, I was changed forever that day. Evil was no longer something just to be read about. Never in my life had I been so horrified at what was unfolding before my very eyes. I watched people leap to their deaths out of burning skyscrapers. I heard phone calls that broke my heart. I read stories of heroism and courage and love that made me weep for the people we, as a nation, had lost. I would never be the same again, ever.
But 9/11 affected my life in a way that I could never have predicted. One of my best friends growing up turned out to be my husband. And that man enlisted in the military after 9/11, into the United States Marine Corps. Because of 9/11, we spent more time apart than together during our first four years of marriage. Because of 9/11, he went on four deployments and had to watch people he know get killed or wounded around him. Because of 9/11, he was in Afghanistan in an MRAP when it rolled over an IED, leaving him with a Grade 2 concussion, a traumatic brain injury that continues to affect him today. Because of 9/11, he was in Afghanistan when one of our children was born, and had to miss what was one of the most important days of our lives. 9/11 affected my life — our life together — in ways I never could have imagined or predicted 13 years ago. But I don’t regret any of it. I don’t complain about the price our family has paid for freedom. I wouldn’t change it, because when we are confronted with evil, then we must rely on men like my husband to be willing to stand up and fight back. My only regret is an administration that took the sacrifice of thousands upon thousands of men and women in uniform — from those who made the ultimate sacrifice, to those like our family — and wasted it. What 9/11 has ultimately taught me is that no matter how horrific and traumatizing an event is, people will ultimately forget. They will cease to care. They won’t remember why we are fighting. They will feel safe, even though there are terrorists everywhere that want to kill us and destroy our country. 9/11 taught me that good men and women will give everything they have to stop evil… and an ungrateful government will squander it.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we were galvanized. We came together as a nation and suddenly it didn’t matter what party we were, or whether we were pro-gay marriage or what the minimum wage was. All that mattered was that we were Americans. Sadly, it took the sight of our own countrymen jumping from a skyscraper in mortal terror for us to get there. It took the sight of Americans covered in ash and blood. Just a little over a decade later, the large majority of the nation is back to doing what they were doing on 9/10; being self-absorbed and looking for the next instant gratification. Even the horror of the attack itself has faded in a sea of diversity and multiculturalism, where we are told that we must embrace the same ideology that drove nineteen men—and the group behind them—to murder thousands of people in a few horrific moments, captured for all time on film.
For some of us, every day is 9/12. For some of us, those images are burned into our heads with the white-hot fire of anger, the kind born from the pain of a loss we cannot even begin to comprehend. It is not about letting go and forgiving. It is not about compassion or diversity. I have no compassion for those who engage in such cowardly and murderous actions. I have no need for diversity and multiculturalism if it means ignoring the obvious threat to our liberty and our way of life. If 9/11 taught me anything, it is not that life is short or that I need to live life to the fullest, or any of the other trite platitudes that we are fed in the wake of loss. 9/11 reminded me that there are things worth fighting for, worth dying for. There are things worth killing for. Ensuring that nothing like that ever happens on our soil again is one of those things.
Six years prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001 I was lying in bed when my house shook violently from the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City twenty+ miles away. I was again in bed, though a hospital bed, when the World Trade Center was hit and those feelings of anger and worry resurfaced.
I’ve spoken at length of my fears that my beloved Jonn at thisain’thell blog had been lost when the alphabets began reporting that DC had also been hit, and that overwhelming feeling of helplessness, unknowing, and loss will forever be etched in both my soul and my heart. The loss of those whose loved ones perished, who never received that call that theirs was okay, is a loss I cannot even begin to comprehend.
In the thirteen years since that day, not a day has gone by that those red flashes of light on the television have not crossed my heart. Perhaps it is because of my fears of losing Jonn having been compounded exponentially this past year, perhaps it is because I hear and feel the hurt in my own better half’s words over his own losses and ghosts, perhaps it lays in the idea that this world we live in today, this world of war and loss and uncertainty, is all my children have ever known. It’s more than likely a combination of all of those, and it pains me that they know nothing else.
I won’t lie, I miss W when I reflect back on that day. I won’t get political or partisan, instead I’ll share the President’s words of that day, words which gave me pause then and, yes, hope that all would be handled:
“The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them. This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before and we will do so this time.”
I wasn’t yet a parent when September 11th happened. I do remember thinking at the time that this would be equivalent to my parents remembering JFK’s assassination, or my grandparents remembering Pearl Harbor. It would be only history to my children, but I would see it with the eyes of someone who had lived through that incredibly painful day with raw memories. I had the privilege of being able to take my daughter to the 9/11 Memorial Chapel at the Pentagon last April. I watched her absorb the story of the horror of that day, and realize that little girls, who would now be just a few years older than she is, died on board Flight 77.
September 11th forced me to confront the fact that evil is never abstract, or just a part of history. It was real, terrifying, and it was in the here and now. It can never be reasoned or negotiated with, because how do you come to terms with someone who simply wants you dead? And how on earth do I explain that to my children, that there are people in this world who want you dead just because you are not one of them? But what worries me most of all, is if we don’t first acknowledge and then defeat the evil that continues to this day to behead captives, then one day my children will have to live through a 9/11 that they will have to explain to their children.
In the years since 9/11, nothing has dulled the memory of that day. It is like a touchstone that I return to when ruminating on the dangerous situation our country is in presently. That day was like a knife. It cut cleanly and accurately through all the intellectually ambiguous chatter about “tolerance” and left no doubt in my mind there was pure living and breathing evil in the world. I don’t think I really realized it until then. Just as there was no doubt in my heart there was pure, unselfish and courageous good in the world. Out of the evil cowardice of 9/11 that caused such carnage and heartbreak came remarkable courage and such breathtaking goodness – I still tear up thinking of the bravery we saw that day and in all the days, months, and years since. How evil and good can reside simultaneously in human DNA isn’t something any of us can ever understand. But I, personally, understand it is necessary to crush, without mercy, the kind of evil we saw on 9/11. Evil that didn’t stop that day but has grown and flourished with terrifying speed.
What has changed in 14 years? Not much. There is still an enemy that wants to not only destroy America and our way of life, but also just flat out kill us. This cannot be a surprise to anyone – they have said and demonstrated this over and over and over again. And we have “leaders” (and too many citizens) of this nation who, even after 9/11 and all the very real examples of evil intent that has happened since that day, do not yet understand what it means to have the courage and moral certainty to confront evil head on. To act without ambiguity and political cowardice, but with forceful resolve. I’m left wondering on this day of painful memories what am I most sad about? What happened on 9/11? Or where we are today?
Like so many Americans 9/11 changed so much about how I view our world, and our country’s place in that world. Growing up I was fortunate to be exposed to the historical truth about evil on this earth by parents who believed wholeheartedly that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. I agree with that and have strived to ensure that no one forgets the truth about what happened that September morning-and is still happening to this day. I have studied what lays behind those who would seek to destroy us and made it a personal goal to educate as many of my countrymen, and women, as I can about the truth about radical Islam. 9/11 has also shaped how I view our place in the world. I have come to the sad realization that we simply cannot continue to provide a refuge for all the sick, tired and hungry of the world. We must think of the safety, well-being, and most of all the continued liberty of our citizens first and that should inform every decision made in our government and by our Commander In Chief. Lastly 9/11 strengthened how I view the import of the willingness of our brave military men and women to step forward to defend this land and all that she represents. We owe them our gratitude and since 2001 I have striven to thank them in every way that I can.
On September 10th, 2001, I lived in an ignorant slumber. Working toward a journalism degree, I considered myself a Democrat under the false notion that the party represented free speech and equal rights. I’d known evil in my own life, but nothing like what would arrive on our doorstep the following morning. Nothing like that which called itself Al Qaeda. Nothing like that which compelled terrified American citizens to leap to their deaths from burning New York City skyscrapers, while the nation watched in horror. On September 11th, as the buildings came crashing down, I woke up. I was furious, with a blinding desire to see each and every one of those who attacked our country that September morning pounded into little grains of sand. And I knew George W. Bush would do it.
Fast forward to 2014. I’m wide awake. November of 2000 was the last time I unwittingly voted against liberty and national security. I can’t say what Al Gore’s response to 9/11 would have been, but I can say with relative certainly that it would not have mirrored the strong and decisive response that came from George W. Bush. No, it would likely have resembled the limp-wristed, schizophrenic foreign policy nightmare of the current White House embarrassment, with his 21st century rose-colored glasses, following recklessly in the failed footsteps of Jimmy Carter. In my fifty years, I’ve never seen our country in a more precarious position, our Constitution and our national security dangling from the precipice. As a nation, we’ve learned little from our horrifying history, are again voting for freebies and lies over freedom and security, and refusing to hold accountable those who willfully endanger us. Our country is once again comatose. Though I pray it never happens, I’m afraid of what it might take to reawaken us. And even more frightened of our ill-preparedness. I still want every single Islamic terrorist pounded into sand. And I’m still furious.
I was sitting in my sophomore college sociology class next to my best friend when our professor broke the news. We thought he was kidding at first. As soon we realized he was serious, my heart began to pound and a nausea set in. What was happening? Classes were cancelled and on my large college campus, televisions were pulled out of every corner as people piled on couches and floors watching hour after hour of horror. My most poignant memories are the days after 9/11, when the world I’d always known was blanketed by haze of sadness. It was everyone’s loss and the grieving struggled to comfort the grieving.
13 years later, the footage of that day is no less heart wrenching — the reality of something like that happening again is palpable. The same kind of men who flew planes in the the WTC have multiplied and America must be more vigilant than ever. To children, 9/11 is just a story they know. To most of us, the pain will never go away. To those in charge right now — don’t forget what they did to us and don’t bet for a second they wouldn’t do it again 10 times over. The battle of good and evil can never truly be won on this earth — but we’d better fight our hardest to decimate as much evil as we can with what we have right now. The 3,000 men, women and children who died 13 years ago deserve nothing less.
On September 11, 2001, I was immersed in my first full week of classes at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario. As the events of that tragically historic Tuesday morning unfolded, I lamented that I could not be at home in Kentucky with my loved ones. Some professors canceled classes that day, while others did not. That afternoon in the first session of my Intro to Theology class, I encountered for the first time in my life an anti-American sentiment that I had no idea existed. We Americans can be very narrow-minded when it comes to how we are perceived by the world. Our collective naiveté is misinterpreted as a collective narcissism. That day in Canada I was exposed to insensitive comments like, “The big bully nation is finally getting what it deserves,” and “They can dish it out but they can’t take it.” The speakers did not know I was American. I was too intimidated to speak up. I cowered in my seat that day in the classroom, and I failed to speak up for my country. I had always professed an undying love for my country, but I was shamefully silent that day.
For three years I lived with the guilt of knowing that I had not spoken up in defense of my homeland. Eventually I finished my studies in Ottawa, and on a cloudy, gray April day in 2004 I began my drive home from the Canadian capital for the last time. As I crossed the border at Ogdensburg, New York, and passed through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station, tears streamed down my cheeks. I silently begged forgiveness from my beloved Country. I vowed to never again be silent when She is being attacked. Just then the clouds paled and parted, and glorious sunshine suddenly burst through. I knew that She had forgiven me. And I have not stopped defending Her.
9/11 gave this country a wake-up call. For me, it became a time of choices. Since that day, I’ve taken chances in life, stepped out of my comfort zone in terms of career directions, became a small business owner, am raising an beautiful daughter, and have been blessed since 2012 to be married to a man who is a wolf for our home and for this country. Since that horrible day, when evil came to our shores, I have changed. I have become stronger in my convictions, and am braver about stating those convictions out loud or in writing. I’ve always been a history buff; however, 9/11 has motivated me to thoroughly educate myself about our founders and our constitution. The events of that day and all that has followed taught me that I need to know and understand why America is who she is, and if we make changes or bow down to political correctness, we will indeed falter and become weak. We must remember these words from John Adams: “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrendered their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.”
I desire a republic of Americans which understands what must be done to preserve our liberty and our freedoms. I desire a republic of Americans that stands tall and strong in the face of adversity. I want a republic that knows the ‘religion of peace’ is actually the religion of evil, and will decisively act to eradicate that evil when it is visited upon us. I do not plan to lie down and surrender at the first sign of terrorist incursion into this country. I want Americans to become constitutionally sound. I desire that we all read, know and absorb what our framers put into place, and use that as our guide for this republic. I know we are exceptional because of the constitution, and those who framed it and fought for it. I know we are exceptional because of the sacrifices made by so many to keep this land free. Today, as a result of 9/11, I use my actions and my voice to proudly honor the freedoms we have, and to do my part to protect us from those around the world who would like to take it away from us by ways insidious and by force. For, as Margaret Thatcher once said, “The price of freedom is still, and always will be, eternal vigilance.”
Reflecting on 9/11, thirteen years later, shall I apply the shopworn cliché about ‘loss of innocence’ to how it has affected me? Hardly. I was born in the first half of the Baby Boom era. I am a mother to two grown daughters, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother to a toddler. I was a child at the time of President Kennedy’s assassination — an event I remember clearly, watched Vietnam news films on television, and was a college student during Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon. I surely remember the scandalous Clinton era. I have been around the block a time or two, and have seen my share of epic events.
The attacks of 9/11, however, rank as the most momentous of my life, as I witnessed war being brought to my nation. I then labeled it “Pearl Harbor for our generation.” My first reaction was experiencing a depressive blue funk for two full weeks. I also developed a compulsive need to always turn on the radio or the television to give me updates on anything that was happening anywhere — it didn’t matter what. I wasn’t concerned for my safety, or my family’s, as we live smack in the center of the Midwest. I just had a near-manic need to know what was happening, and this lasted for years. In 2006 we hosted an exchange student from Hong Kong who noticed this quirk and asked why I was always turning on the news. I told her I started doing this after 9/11. “Oh,” she said, “the Twin Towers?” Yes, the Twin Towers. The 9/11 attacks also created a certain cynicism in me towards Muslims. I then understood why my father, a World War II veteran, could not bring himself to purchase a Japanese car for decades. Sorry, but no ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker for me. Yet 9/11 also gave me a new sense of appreciation for those who defend America. Even though I grew up knowing that my dad — just like so many other dads of my generation — fought in World War II, I am left with a lasting pride for his contribution to freedom. My daughter is married to a Navy submarine officer; his “underways” are hardly safe, yet 9/11 has given me a pride in his profession that I’m not sure I would have had otherwise. Yes, 9/11 has changed me forever, in ways both cynical and yet hopeful for the nation.
The first post 9/11 change for me is there is a definite sense of before and after. Before 9/11, I loved being able to fly safely anywhere in the US if I wanted to or needed to and being able to fly at the last minute (the sprint through the airport) and see a friend graduate or visit a relative. After 9/11, that freedom is gone as is the illusion of safety in the air. Next, my worldview changed radically. I was taught that not every muslim was evil. 9/11 showed the true fruits of that evil death cult. It does not matter if one is Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Taoist, Atheist, Gay, Straight, Black, White, Asian or Hispanic. They want us dead. The women in Gaza passing out candy cheering for dead Americans? The death threats against anyone who speaks out against these animals? Not a whole lot of love or coexistence.
The most important thing that changed in me was having an adult understanding of who God is and what real faith means. I learned He is not a cosmic Pez dispenser but He is with His children during the best of times and the worst of times. God does not guarantee we will have a happy ending and He never has. He guarantees we can endure what comes and He will be with us the whole time. And having the faith to believe and indeed to know this is what creates a Todd Beamer and “Let’s Roll” in the worst possible scenario.
Thirteen years after 9/11, the damage the Pentagon sustained has been repaired in record time, the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville is still under construction, and after much controversy, the Freedom Tower stands where the Twin Towers were.