September 11 Anniversary Pennsylvania

HAIL TO THE 9/11 HEROES

Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., participate in a sunset memorial service on Tuesday as the nation prepares to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks today. United Flight 93 was one of four planes hijacked by terrorists on that fateful day, and the only one that didn't reach its intended target as passengers aboard struggled with the hijackers to regain control of the plane, a struggle which led to the aircraft crashing into the Pennsylvania field where the memorial has since been located. When former Vice President Dick Cheney learned of the passengers actions that day, he said:  "I think an act of heroism just took place on that plane."

Eighteen years ago, we made a promise to never forget.

One day this week, we remembered.

Those old enough to vividly recall that fateful September day certainly do not need a calendar to alert one’s emotions. The events of that day changed us all individually and America collectively, and not necessarily for the better.

As the years distance us from 2001, it is the first few days after Sept. 11 that have come to cause more reflection and, to some extent, consternation for me.

I cannot forget that period immediately after the attack, we actually were a single organization, bonded by fear, possibly love and a determination to show the world just who we were as soon as we dusted off the ashes.

Although temporary, it was impactful. A modern-day sleeping giant had again been awakened.

Regrettably, we soon forgot those moments and the promise of unity. We adapted to the daily rainbow of the terror alert system and the overhauled airport security inspections.

We removed the faded bumper stickers from our cars.

We stopped counting casualties.

We slowly returned to our divisions of social-economic, political affiliation, gender and ethnicity.

Nothing since, not even natural disasters, has united us as much as that unforgettable day.

Looking back at the attack and the enormous, unfathomable loss we suffered, the absence of any record of political affiliation associated with the victims in the buildings, on the planes or on the ground is very conspicuous.

There is no record of how many victims were liberals or conservatives or Republican or Democrat. There is one reason only. It didn’t matter.

The objective of the attack was to inflict drastic and lasting damage to America. The evil mastermind saw us all as the equals we are supposed to be. The enemy did not give a d--- about our political differences.

On Sept. 12, 2001, and a few days hence, we saw ourselves the same way.

Then, we broke our promise.

We forgot.

That attack was not successful just because it inflicted heavy human casualty and forever altered the way we looked at homeland tranquility.

While the falling of the twin towers, the iconic beacons of our international financial status, is forever embedded in our psyche, more than just buildings crumbled that day. Albeit, at a much slower pace, America has been crumbling since.

The patriotic fibers that had always provided us an impenetrable strength, now wave like shredded fibers barely holding together a favorite flannel shirt.

We are a shell of what we were on the day after 9/11.

We have forgotten what that day revealed.

We can reasonably conclude that those fewer-than-two-dozen terrorists who carried out the four-pronged attack foresaw the splintered sovereignty we have become.

In less than two decades, we are literally killing our own at the annual rate of six times the number killed by the terrorists on Sept. 11.

No foreign entity can hate Americans more than Americans can.

We have become what we hated and feared.

Meanwhile, the internal terrorists seem to have been given free rein to destroy from within. The incessant political posturing is not without fatalities.

On both sides, citizens wear their affiliations like a badge of honor or superiority. There is a high degree of absurdity on either side that dismisses the fact that the American eagle needs two wings to fly.

Whenever I hear one side of the aisle proclaim a political advantage or supremacy over the other, I am reminded of the response by comedian Bill Engvall when confronted with blatant stupidity, “Here’s your sign.”

Ron Jackson is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal and can be contacted at rjackson@daily-journal.com.

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