Much of the 9/11 remembrances today are focused on the victims of that horrific attack seven years ago. But today it is also appropriate to remember the nature of the threat we face from radical Islamic extremists, and the responses each presidential candidate gave to Rick Warren at the Saddleback forum when he asked them about the existence of evil.
John McCain was quick to say we should “defeat evil” and immediately noted the use by terrorists of adults with mental disabilities as suicide bombers as an example of the evil we face.
By contrast, Barack Obama almost immediately talked about the evil inside our own society, and how we should be careful to avoid judging others because of all the evil things America has allowed and even perpetrated in the name of good. As Laura Ingraham pointed out on her radio show this morning, Obama’s answer was merely a less offensive way of saying what Obama’s mentor and pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has said repeatedly from the pulpit. Wright famously talked about America’s “chickens … coming home to roost” because America bombed other nations in World War II and subsequent conflicts.
Meanwhile, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, today, U.S. Senator John McCain gave a brief but moving speech on the seventh anniversary of 9/11:
No American living then should ever forget the heroism that occurred in the skies above this field on September 11, 2001. It is believed that the terrorists on United Flight 93 may have intended to crash the airplane into the United States Capitol. Hundreds if not thousands of people would have been at work in that building when that fateful moment occurred, and been destroyed along with a beautiful symbol of our freedom. They and, very possibly I, owe our lives to the passengers who summoned the courage and love necessary to deny our depraved and hateful enemies their terrible triumph.
“I have witnessed great courage and sacrifice for America’s sake, but none greater than the sacrifice of those good people who grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat, and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives.
“I spoke at the memorial service for one of them, Mark Bingham. I acknowledged that few of us could say we loved our country as well as he and all the heroes of September 11 had. The only means we possess to thank them is to try to be as good an American as they were. We might fall well short of their standard, but there is honor in the effort.
“In the Gospel of John it is written, ‘Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Such was their love; a love so sublime that only God’s love surpasses it. I am in awe of it as much as I am in debt to it. May God bless their souls.”
Excellent points, Len. Having been in DC for the Pentagon Memorial, I watched hundreds of Americans waving small American flags with a humbleness that is born of true sorrow. The men and women surrounding me, in their uniforms representing all branches of our brave military, held a look of determination and ultimate commitment. We cannot equivocate the measures necessary to do what is necessary to keep our country secure and sovereign.
Nothing else will do.
The Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, is literally next door to the San Diego Airport; I had been there a month already, right out of high school. One typical morning we were scheduled to do some PT but it was cancelled at an odd time and there was something abuzz in the air. The Drill Instructors herded all the recruits from Bravo Company into the “House of Knowledge” (a big round building with lots of seats). One of the Senior DI’s addressed B Co. and told us New York had been attacked: we would be going to war. It was September 11, 2001. At first we thought this was a gimmick, after all we were in boot camp. But then the DI told us to listen to the sky…all we heard was silence. You see San Diego airport has planes constantly taking off and landing, all day, all night. But today was silent. So were the following two days when the Feds had grounded all air traffic. It was an ominous silence that was engrained into the formative experiences of the new U.S. Marines in my Company. Our training intensified and we called on the true grit that is deep inside any man who bleeds Red White and Blue. In the years since I’ve lost friends and comrades; once, my own brother had a round fly past his face after penetrating two houses as they were on patrol. That’s as close as you get. There are many reasons to be there, there are few to not be there. Our leaders have not been perfect, but America responding with brute force has stunned our enemies and that is the very reason they have not attacked again. European countries have folded to their demands. Not so the USA. Not as long as this Marine can still pull a trigger.