Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Patriots' Day Sept 11 2012 (11 Years)

I glance back over the past eleven years since that fateful day and the numerous articles, memoirs, and journal entries I have written on each anniversary. One of the usual questions asked, similar to anniversaries of other great tragedies such as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, and John Lennon, is "do you remember where you were when that happened?".

The same types of recollections concerning December 7, 1941 haunted my grandparents. My grandfather answered the call to silently serve the United States, working as an intelligence operative in Europe in the effort to defeat the socialists and fascists such as Hitler and Mussolini. The number of people those tyrants and monsters murdered is still frightening. Even more frightening is considering how many more they would have slaughtered had we not been pushed too far and had patriots stand up and do those hard jobs that needed to be done. 

My recollections of September 11, 2001 are very vivid, as are many other Americans. I have written about that event and the first few days following several times since. I invite my readers, new and old, to look back at some of my earlier articles, paying particular attention to memoirs of 11 SEP 2001 as well as my tributes to fallen heroes. (I also recall another "9-11", 9 November 1989, the day the Berlin Wall toppled. I still display a piece of it on my mantle.)

This year I wish to write something positive. With the poor economy, high unemployment, and constant encroachment of this current administration into private lives, we each need those little positives, especially on an anniversary such as today.

One great thing that horrible day taught the world was that, despite differences in ethnic background, political ideology, religion, or ancestral language we, Americans, come together. When the wolf growls at the door, we kick that door open into its yaw and then knock in its teeth. We taught the Japanese and Nazis that lesson in World War II. We are teaching the terrorist groups under the Al Q'aeda umbrella and their like-minded extremists around the world that lesson, even today.

Our fight against those extremist and terrorist groups did not start that fateful day. They started that war against us many decades ago. The assassination of Robert Kennedy was done by somebody who may have belonged to one of Al Q'aeda's predecessors. The World Trade Center was attacked once before. The Marine Barracks in Lebanon was attacked in the 1980s. Tehran held Americans hostage for over a year, starting in 1979 and ending the day President Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. We have the USS Cole bombings and the Embassy Bombings during Clinton's Term. With the second attack on the World Trade Center, we had enough.

After each of  these attacks, we had several heroes that ran out and tried to save survivors. We had teams from the FBI and the USMC investigate and "exploit" evidence from those attacks in order to build dossiers on the various groups and personalities involved. We had DIA and CIA operators work the various intelligence networks to gain information. We have had special strike teams do what they do in order to deter attacks, if not prevent them from happening.

We had local police, firemen, medics, paramedics, and volunteer rescue workers from around the country pitch in to do whatever they could to help.

We had heroes. We had patriots. We even had many of them sacrifice their lives in efforts that others may live.

We need to rejoice in that American Spirit. We need to recognize the patriots of that day and those of every day dating back to 1775.

We need to sing the praises of men such as US Marine Sgt. Jason Thomas. The attacks happened about a year after he separated from active service. When he saw what happened, he did what a Marine is trained to do -- He responded. He reported for duty and helped rescue two Port Authority Police who were trapped under the rubble. Those two officers had entered the building in an attempt to rescue people before the buildings collapsed.

We need to sing the praises of men such as US Marine (Retired) Dave Karnes. Karnes had served 23 years in the USMC and was working in Connecticut. When the attacks happened, he got his hair cut into regulation, pulled out his old uniform and gear, went to pray, then sped in his Porsche to New York City. There he saw the other Marine, Sgt. Thomas, and joined him in helping. Karnes also helped save those two officers. 

Those are but two of the thousands of patriots who jumped into action. In 2005, after my second consecutive tour to Iraq, I taught Intelligence Analysis to incoming Privates that joined the US Army because the country needed them. One such individual was a Specialist (E-4). He entered the service at that rank because he already had some level of college degree above an associates. This man had a doctorates in History, and taught at the University of Washington. He joined because the country needed him and he felt compelled to serve. He chose to be enlisted rather than an officer out of patriotism.

I can recall many, perhaps hundreds, of patriots who answered the call without ever asking for any recognition beyond uncomfortably smiling when some other citizen, out of  the blue, says "thank you". Even that is more praise that desired.

During my 24 year long career, I served during the war doing intelligence work. My primary job was to map out threat networks, identify key personalities, figure out their habits, predict their plans, and find them before they could do any more harm. I would then brief those who conducted the actual missions to stop the bad guys. While doing that job, I encountered too many heroes that also answered that call, never asking for anything more than knowing we, the team of  military personnel, saved lives.

So, on this day, I thank the god I worship as well as the god(s) each American worships, regardless of the name(s) ascribed that we still live in this great republic, the greatest nation on this planet. I thank each and every patriot who has done something, even if it was just a $5 donation to the American Red Cross, to help when help was needed, without needing to be begged. I thank every American who hasn't done "it" for the glory or recognition, but because "it" just needed to be done -- so it was.

The depths of my gratitude are infinite. Words will never suffice.

Thank You!