In December, 2001, Congress passed a joint resolution designating September 11th as Patriot Day. This morning, President Trump continued that tradition with a Presidential Proclamation declaring Tuesday to be Patriot Day 2018. His statement says the day is “to honor the memories of the nearly 3,000 lives lost on September 11, 2001, and of every hero who has given their life since that day to protect our safety & our freedom.”
He especially stressed the national unity following that terrible day and how “our love of country was made manifest through the examples of Americans engaging in countless acts of courage, grit, and selflessness. Their actions gave us hope and helped to sustain us in the days of healing that followed.”
Let’s pray that all Americans will again wake up to the importance of national unity and stop trying to divide us for political advantage. We’ll soon find out: President Trump’s proclamation breaks with the previous Administration by referring to the 9/11 attackers as “radical Islamist terrorists.” How many people in positions of influence will focus on the call to recapture our sense of national unity, and how many will attack the President for political incorrectness for daring to call the attackers what they actually were?
The threat that gave rise to 9/11 has never gone away. If we hope to prevent future 9/11s, the most basic step is to be honest with ourselves about who the enemy is and what motivates them.
As part of the 2016 observance of 9/11, the New York Fire Department shared a photo online depicting what nobody at the time realized was the last sunset the Twin Towers would ever see. It’s a must-see photo, but brace yourself for the surge of emotion that’s going to hit you when you see it.
Spotlight on the Heroines of 9/11
In remembering the heroes of 9/11, let’s shine a spotlight on some unsung heroines: the flight attendants of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston. They spent the last moments of their lives calling the crew on the ground to describe what was going on and who was behind it. That information helped authorities understand what was happening and the heroic passengers on Flight 93 know that cooperating with the hijackers would not save them but acting against them might save countless others. Read more about these less heralded but very important heroines of 9/11 at the link.
Hurricane Florence update
Hurricane Florence is strengthening into a historically threatening Category 4 storm. If you’re in one of the states that might be in its path along the southern East Coast, then please be prepared. And if you are among the million-plus people who have already been ordered to evacuate, then pack up your family and your animals and get out of the storm’s way. Keep a close eye and ear on the weather information, in case more evacuations are ordered that include your area. And saying a prayer wouldn't hurt.
Some of the latest information is at this link:
And here is a continuously updated page that tracks the path of the storm and offers tips on how to prepare if you are in its path or on the edges.
Seven ways to honor the heroes and victims of 9/11 year round
As September 11, 2018, comes to a close, here is an excellent article on seven ways to honor the heroes and victims of 9/11 year ‘round, ways that help the survivors and that strengthen America.
Never Forget 911
I know you normally open this newsletter each morning to hear me explain, or at least make fun of, the overcrowded clown car that today’s political news has become. But I hope you’ll excuse me if this morning, we take a brief break from politics and other trivial and divisive things.
In fact, I hope and pray that at least for this one morning, all Americans will take a brief break from sniping, arguing and criticizing each other and come together as one to observe the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001. They took the lives of 2,977 innocent victims and injured over 6,000 more, and the toll continues to grow as many Americans die too young or continue to cope with the longterm health effects of breathing the toxic air while aiding the rescue effort.
In 2009, September 11th was declared an official day of service. The volunteerism-promoting group 9/11 Day asks politicians not to run campaign ads or give political speeches on this day. They are welcome to attend the memorial at Ground Zero, but not to engage in partisan rhetoric. This is a day for all Americans to come together and show our solidarity to those who would dare attack us, not a day to attack each other.
Today, thousands of people are expected to gather for the annual observance at the World Trade Center in New York City. Vice President Pence will attend a ceremony at the Pentagon, where a third hijacked airliner was deliberately crashed; and President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will join a ceremony in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the valiant passengers of United Flight 93 became the first Americans to start fighting back when they said "Let's roll" and stopped the hijackers in mid-flight, bringing down their own plane and sacrificing themselves to prevent the terrorists from reaching their target in Washington. A new "Tower of Voices" was dedicated in their honor there on Saturday.
Every year, we go through these ceremonies, and I hope we never stop no matter hard as it is to relive the painful memory of that beautiful, early September morning 17 years ago when we turned on our TVs or radios (or in some places, looked out the window) and beheld a tragedy so terrible, it felt as if the world were coming to an end. The media chose never to repeat that horrific footage but it was a futile gesture. Those who lived through it will always carry those indelible images in their heads of those planes crashing, the buildings burning and collapsing, and nearly 3,000 innocent people being murdered before our eyes. They were people just like us: innocently going to work in offices, flying on business or vacations, working to protect the public – just going about their lives as we all do every day, when suddenly, everything changed.
That blow did not knock out America – no blow is strong enough to do that, as we proved after Pearl Harbor. When an enemy dares to knock us down, we get back up and strike back harder than they could possibly imagine. But the blow did shake our confidence. It made us realize that in the age of international transportation, mass migration, and militant Islamic radicalism that allows for no compassion or assimiliation, only death to those who are different, we had let down our guard and allowed ourselves to become vulnerable to attack, even as our enemies’ ability to attack us on a greater scale with fewer resources had been growing.
The World Trade Center was destroyed (the destruction so devastating that rebuilding still isn’t complete); the Pentagon, symbol of our military might, was seriously damaged; and nearly 3,000 people were dead, and all because of 19 Islamic militants with box cutters who had taken advantage of our hospitality and plotted to kill us right under our noses. As we gather today to remember those we lost, let us also vow never to forget the hard-won wisdom we were forced to learn that day.
It’s also important to continue holding these remembrances because time has a way of making things slip away if you don’t hand it down to the next generation. Today marks 17 years since the 9/11 attacks. That means the incoming class of college freshmen were just babies when it happened. Next year will see a class of college freshmen who weren’t even alive when 9/11 happened. To them, it wasn’t an unforgettable horror that they can still see in their mind’s eye (another way the media blackout of 9/11 images backfired.) It’s ancient history. That makes them easy prey for radical teachers who attack law enforcement and border security and promote a “blame America first” agenda -- and for recruiters for the very same beliefs and organizations that were behind the 9/11 attacks.
Even after the incomprehensible evil of 9/11, we saw the rise of ISIS, and young people raised with all the advantages of peaceful Western civilization being persuaded to run off to the Middle East and join a group of conscienceless killers. We’ve seen mass murder attacks in Europe and America, at places as seemingly secular as rock concerts and a gay nightclub. And even in New York City, where vigilance and the watchwords "never again" should be at their strongest, last year, a man in a truck mowed down eight people on a bike path near the World Trade Center and a would-be suicide bomber set off a pipe bomb in a subway passageway near Times Square. Both were inspired by the Islamic State group. Yet there are many in that very city who now assail the people working to secure our borders and keep threats out.
The writer George Santayana is famous for observing that those who can’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it. As another September 11th passes, and as we remember the dead, comfort the survivors and renew our resolve that it “never again” happen, let us also vow that we will never let those who refuse to remember the past trick us and our children into repeating it.