It is time for reflection. Why is that? Well if you have a pulse, have seen at least one newspaper, and have not been living under a rock or in the Westboro Baptist Church compound, then you know its been ten years. Most people can tell you what they were doing, and where they were. They can give you details, and how they perceived the planes flying into the towers, the pentagon, and that lonely field. Its been a decade since that fateful day that forever altered America.
I am taking this weekend to look back at what we as a people have done over the last decade, and what I have personally done over the last decade. The first thing I noticed being back in school is that vast majority of people joining the military right now are eighteen. This means that they where in the third grade probably watching CNN. Some of those kids that President Bush spent time reading too, are right now putting on a uniform for the first time. It has been that long.
I look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in different lights now. I know what people think about them, at least the ones willing to share their opinion. Most feel it was an act of vengeance and greed. They miss the reality of the wars. The miss the reality of the world. Since we first put boots on the ground in Afghanistan we have destroyed the enemies capabilities to train future kamakazi pilots. The Taliban run government was a safe haven for extremist to train and recruit.
Yes as a soldier I was really happy to go over and get something back. I will admit a certain satisfaction knowing that people that meant us harm tasted at least a bit of that same fear. However this was not the mission. The mission was to remove the threat. To drastically reduced the ability of those that wish to do us harm, and to disrupt their organization in a way to ensure that another attack of that magnitude could happen in the United States again. Yet we focus on things that upset me. That is another issue all together though.
So in thinking about this, ask yourself how did you life change over a decade ago. How did you feel about September 11th? What did you do about those feelings during this long decade of struggle? What are you going to do to remember the events of that fateful day? What are your concerns for the future in that regard?
Even today I look to countries that harbor this level of idealism. I look at countries that offer the ability to train future terrorist. I see places like Somalia, Iran, and North Korea. I see the obvious places I would go to train subversive individuals, and where I could freely preach my rhetoric to the down trodden masses. I see this places and wonder how long before we cross those borders, or if we ever will. I wonder if we can ever really be safe, or safe-ish.
Are people always going to give into envy. Will they despise people for what they have when they have not? Will intolerance always exist not matter how places we go to remove their breeding grounds? Will we as a people continue to stand against oppression, or will we continue to be selective in that regard? What value would a country have to have to us, before we interfere with their internal politics in order to adjust them to a more favorable world view?
I wrestle with these ideas daily, standing by to go some where yet again, to enforce the safety of my country. I am all about free speech, but when that speech leads to the direct harm of those people I swore to protect, when do we step in and say diplomacy failed and start kicking nuts? How much is enough?
In this I try to honor those that have come before me. I try to think about those people just working to earn for their families, that found their day rife with chaos and pain. From those in the towers, or those masses that watched in horror and anger. To those people that decided to put on the uniform and go after those persons of evil. How many lives where forever changed.
Please think about this when you decide what you are going to do this weekend, and think of how many people would have wanted you to remember their death with a barbecue. Think about how many of them you will disrespect this weekend when you are showing no regard to your life, and those around you when you drink and drive. Think about those firemen that lost their life's when you are wasting your own on empty pursuits. Think about that soldier that died on foreign soil when you bitch about the things you don't have.
I think at the end of the day, this last decade thought me a few valuable lessons. Do not take what you have for granted, because it can all go away. Do not assume that because you have peace in your heart, that your neighbor does. You can judge a person by their deeds, and words rarely carry the resolve of action. Sacrifice is something that is given out of need not desire. I also realized that no matter how broken our system appears to be, it is still the best thing out there. I also know there is always hope. Tragedy is a stronger bond then promise. Evil does lurk in plain site, and when you cower from it, ignore it, or blow it off, it takes root in a life changing way.
So in that I ask that you reflect. Ask yourself what have you done, what can you do, to be a better you. In doing so you really honor those noble dead.