Nine years ago today, terrorism fueled by radical Islam forever altered the American landscape, both physically and emotionially. Nearly 3,000 innocent Americans became the first casualties in a war they did not want, and war they did not seek. But war was brought to the United States, and the United States responded, vowing to defeat terrorism fueled by whatever twisted religious or secular ideology propelled it.
A native Long Islander, I lost an old friend, and a personal hero that morning. A firefighter who wasn't even on duty that day, William Johnston heard the call and rushed into the inferno, into the World Trade Center, and subsequently gave his life for a greater cause than himself.
It was a greater cause that brought American armed forces to faraway countries to fight a war that they likewise, did not want or seek. But it was a war that was thrust upon the United States by its enemies. Nine years later, as the American military wraps things up in Iraq and prepares for a new offensive in Afghanistan, all Americans should remember that the radical Islamists that our friends and family in uniform fight -and protect us from- would rather see us dead than live free.
The American people, living in a time of economic crisis and shouldering the burden of two wars -wars they as well did not want or seek- should remember that despite the personal hardships we face here at home, we have it better than anyone else in the world. Indeed, the history of the world has never seen anything quite like the United States, or the promises it offers.
Americans remain free and defiant in the face of evil. We learned on 9/11 that the 21st century did not offer utopianesque safety and security that was promised. We have seen -and not heard of- countless terrorist attacks against our home that have been foiled or stopped. As pathetic as the Christmas Bomber was, as incompetent as the would-be bomber of Times Square was, as murderous as the Fort Hood killer was, Americans are reminded that the War on Terror is not over, that terrorism has not vanished from the face of the earth.
The United States will prevail so long as it remains free and vigiliant against Islamic terrorism, and whatever other evils come our way. The War on Terror may never end, but it is nevertheless a war we will never lose -and indeed, prevail over- so long as we choose to remain defiant.
Nine years later, the scars in our nation -and in its people- run just as deep as they did that September morning that everything changed. Now, Americans appreciate freedom and security a little more, and as time goes on, the false sense of security may again set in upon us. But we must never again be lulled to sleep by false promises offered by a 21st century global community. We will always be Americans. We will always be a class apart. We will always be different.
We must never forget 9/11, the victims, the casualties and dead of our wars.
We must never forget that what we offer the world -freedom- is unlike anything seen in the history of men, and is worth preserving.
We must never forget who we are.
God Bless the United States of America.