Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Have Lost Our Virginity

(I sat here and tried to think of something to say, but I cannot say it any better than I did 9 years ago, so I chose to republish this. It first appeared on 9/13/01 on the Women's Firearm Network.)

(September 13, 2001) Tuesday, September 11, 2001 will forever be the day that we as a nation lost our virginity. And in the worst possible way. There is no other way for me to put it. I have spent the last 2 days unable to walk away from the television horrified, shocked and angered at what I was seeing. There is still a part of me that has not quite accepted it. But, there is no other way to look at it. We are immune no more.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon sounded the opening of a war which no nation is truly prepared or willing to wage. Unlike past wars and past battles, our enemy chooses to hide in the shadows of the world, sending forth their evil operatives to kill and destroy. Make no mistake though - this enemy has as their goal our destruction. They are willing to die to further that goal. They are willing to sacrifice their children to these same dark ends. They dance in the streets as we weep.

America has learned a hard lesson. We are not universally loved. Somewhere on this planet are those that would destroy us simply because they don't like us, or our way of life. We cannot fathom that our freedom offends these animals. If we are to get past this horrible moment, then we had best accept that fact. We should not harden our hearts against strangers, but we should know that we have some truly evil enemies and recognize them for what they are.

We will never be the same again. Things are going to have to change if we are going to win this war. Even now, things that would have been unthinkable just a few days ago are now reality. The Air Force and Navy are flying air patrols over the United States. Carrier groups are laying off of our major coastal cities. Airport security is going to be genuine security. These are the things that are now part of our reality.

These are not bad things, nor are they of issue with the Constitution. These are the things that a free nation at war does to defend itself. Many of us lawfully carry a firearm daily to defend ourselves. Well air patrols, naval patrols and secure airports are weapons that America needs to carry for its self defense. We should remain vigilant that our rights are not compromised, however, and make certain that the zealotry of security does not overtake the freedoms that are the essence of America.

But we cannot allow ourselves to succumb to the terror. And that may be the biggest fight of all. The one with our own human nature. The reflex that tells you to pull into a shell. Because yielding to that reflex is precisely what the enemy is after. If we are to win this war the first thing we have to do is step up to our reputation as Americans. The 'Home of the Brave' needs to be just that.

I had at first been angered by all of the closings and cancellations, seeing them as surrender to the enemy. I was all set to say so here. And then I heard an interview with NBC Sportscaster Bob Costas on MSNBC. He made a point I had forgotten in all of my institutional anger. I had forgotten that the athletes and performers are Americans, too. They are, individually, as hurt and angry as every one of us. They did not feel they could play or perform well this weekend, much like so many of us cannot quite settle back into the job. I forgot they were just people, too.

So we will have our period to mourn and to collect our thoughts and fully accept what has happened to us. And we should. But we should look to the bright spots as well. Shining through the darkness of this tragedy are small bright spots that are what America is really about. We have the men on United flight 73 who, according to all reports, took on the terrorists, and through their actions, were able to avert a fourth attack. They knew they would not survive their effort, but they knew they had to stand up and fight. True heroes.

There are the innumerable stories of heroics in the rescue efforts. Volunteers from all over America flowing into New York to lend their needed skills to this effort. They work for no pay with no benefits in an almost incalculably risky situation. And they barely take breaks. There are the firefighters, who are heroes on a daily basis, risking all to try to save just one person, knowing that hundreds of their colleagues lay beneath that smoking ruin.

We need to look to Israel for some guidance. They have lived with terrorism for many years, and have survived and kept their freedoms intact. They have managed to get up and dust themselves off after every bombing, no matter how horrible. They have pointed an outstretched middle finger to the enemy and gone back to their lives. The pizza restaurant that was bombed there last month has already reopened, and is busier than ever. They have accepted the needs of security and found a way to keep their freedom.

I am due to get on an airplane next Friday morning to attend the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Cincinnati, and I have every intention of being on that flight. I will deal with the new regulations. I will pack my knife in my checked luggage instead of in my pocket, and be there early with photo ID in hand. And I will not complain about it, either. It is part of the way we will have to live to win this war. Our parents and grandparents lived through World War II with many restrictions and constraints necessitated by the war. And they defeated the great evil that was consuming the earth. It is now our turn to fight that battle.

We as a people can do this. We can, as President Bush said, "whip terrorism." We can make the sacrifices needed and the effort required to get our nation back on its feet. And we should replace the World Trade Center with a bigger and better one. That can be our outstretched middle finger to those evil animals that took our virginity one awful Tuesday morning.

(Note (9/11/10): This year has the added issue of controversy about the mosque proposed for near the WTC site. I have posted on that before. There is also the ongoing book burning threat from Gainesville. However, today is not a day for that stuff, nor is it a day for publicity hungry politicians or crackpots. We can resume all of that tomorrow. For today, we can set aside the partisan and political differences and remember that all of American was attacked 9 years ago and all Americans felt the loss.)

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