Friday, February 25, 2011

I Have not Forgotten, and I Will Never Forgive

It's not even September, but for some reason I just spent the last half hour or so perusing YouTube for various videos, and found myself gravitating towards several different 9/11 tributes that were made on various anniversaries paying tribute to the brave men and women who died trying to save the thousands that were victimized by fanatics from the Middle East. I've heard all the cliches regarding that day. It was my generation's Pearl Harbor Attack, etc. I tend to liken it more to the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, however. Why? Simply because more than be reminded of who attacked us and why we were retaliating against them, I tend to remember where I was and what I was doing on that fateful morning.

I was just turning 20 that year, and so I was still pretty stupid. Clueless, you might even say, though I thought I had a good handle on how things worked, like most people do at that or any age. And then, at six o'clock in the morning, Pacific Standard Time, I was informed by a customer using the drive through at what was then my place of work that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, and that the attacks had been perpetrated by terrorists. I wasn't really listening at the time, so at best it struck me as odd. Planes crashing into the two tallest buildings in the world? On purpose? Such a thing had never happened before in my lifetime. Was it a misreporting of the situation? Was it pilot error? I didn't know at the time, and I came later to regret finding out. It's true what they say, you know? Ignorance really IS bliss.

That day, I think, was the day that my descent into the depths of all things political truly began. For the first time, I watched the president's State of the Union address. Never had I done such a thing, before, believing (rightly, it turns out) that those speeches were boring and pointless. I mean, we were still here, right? America still existed. That was about all I understood the state of our Union to be. Not this time. This time I knew instinctively that something was wrong, though the full extent of what that was still eluded me. Also for the first time, I thought about what the people in our military had gone through throughout the years, from the Revolution all the way up to the current quagmire that Afghanistan has turned into. These heroes, for they are nothing less, literally give their lives, whether they are in combat or not, to protect and defend the people of this country. One could not ask for a more noble sacrifice. Even the Bible states "greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for another." That defines what our military does daily the best, in my own humble opinion.

My own cousins, in fact, serve now in the United States Marine Corps. One an officer, the other two NCOs. I admire these three men more than I ever did when I was younger, and wish I could do what they do. Alas, that's not my lot in life, apparently. Nevertheless, I still find ways such as this to express my support for all things America, and it seems to satisfy that desire enough to allow me to get on with other things in life.

To this day, however, I cannot understand those who blame the military for our (indeed the world's) problems. Clearly they simply do not understand what it is to be in said military, or to be in combat overseas, away from family and loved ones, sometimes for years at a time, with only the occasional letter or care package from home to link that brave soul with his civilian life back home. I don't claim to understand what it's like to be a soldier, but I do know what it is to lose those you love, having suffered, as everyone does, the death of a close relative or two. Do they not understand that they owe these soldiers their very lives? It's thanks to people like those belonging to the Greatest Generation that we are able to go to work in peace and safety, and spend that off time with our family and friends without fear of a mortar attack or ambush from the side of the road.

And so I ask this simple yet poignant question: Have you forgotten? Do you not remember that horrific scene of Towers One and Two crumpling to the ground like two houses of cards? Do you not remember the anguish that those families went through, and are still going through? If not, I seriously recommend a trip down Memory Lane. I just took one, and though not a pleasant trip, it did remind me of why I started this blog in the first place.