After 20 years, many Americans want to pretend that 9/11 never happened
Tall, gleaming monuments of silver and glass, testimony to what American technology and ingenuity could once do. They still make cameos in some of our favorite movies — “Moonstruck,” “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” “Dog Day Afternoon” — and for brief moments we are awed by the majesty of World Trade Center 1 and 2: Twin towers as they loom over the giant, bustling city.
But in just seconds — less than that, really — we are reminded of that awful, terrible day 20 years ago when evil approached on wings and tore into those towers, raining down debris and heartache and confusion and pain.
We remember the dust, the tears, the screams, and the sirens, the thudding of bodies that fell from the sky. We remember how innocence evaporated like thin puddles on a hot day, how terrorists, wreaking havoc all over the world, had come to America and found fertile ground.
From New York City to an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to the vaunted halls of the Pentagon, our national sense of security was rattled to its very core.
Seconds more pass, and the movie resumes, our brief reminder over. But the wound is still there, just lurking under the surface, a harrowing part of our history that we can never really shake. Yes, time has healed us some, and a new gleaming tower stands where the old ones fell, but no amount of gravel or grit can fill the hole in our hearts.
Twenty years is a long time. Twenty years is nothing at all if you ask a mother, a father, a brother, or sister or an aunt or uncle who lost someone in the rubble. For them, 9/11 just happened yesterday. The crying hasn’t stopped.
Ask a firefighter or a police officer, aged by the dust that filled their lungs as they dug through Ground Zero debris for bodies, for friends. 20 years feels every bit like 20 years, each day a struggle to breathe, each day another day where cancer spreads and destroys and the sorrow never quite goes away.
No, the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t just destroy on that day. It has destroyed on every day since. It destroys on special occasions when there is one less seat at the holiday table. It destroys at weddings when someone other than a father has to walk a bride down the aisle.
It destroys at the airport every time we have to take off our shoes and belts. It destroys every time a soldier dies in the war on terror still being waged, even as Joe Biden assures the nation that the war is over and we will see our fellow citizens and our Afghan allies safely out of harm’s way.
“The United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan: To get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and to deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, and to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks could be continued against the United States,” Biden said. “We achieved those objectives. That’s why we went.”
Biden’s words ring hollow, falling on deaf ears or on ears that return scorn and derision for his botched efforts, his ludicrous decisions, and his miserable failure.
Where we went with righteous revenge against Muslim extremists intended and delivered, we now continue in this 20-year nightmare by seeing our enemy resume the same throne of power he held before we got there. Despite Biden’s empty promises, we see over 1,400 fellow Americans abandoned by this administration to become hostages or worse at the hands of the Taliban.
We see our staunch allies who braved two decades of death threats, danger, and torture ― even the murder of family and friends ― to assist in destroying al-Qaeda and wresting control of Afghanistan from 14th Century-style barbarians who are illiterate, uneducated except in the Qur’an’s extremism, bloodthirsty thugs.
This is not the way we started out.
On September 14, 2001, President George W. Bush visited ground zero to thank workers and volunteers. Bullhorn in hand, a windbreaker on his back, Bush stood with rescue workers, firefighters and police officers atop the smoldering rubble of the fallen twin towers, and gave a speech that still resonates two decades later.
“I want you to know that America today is on bended knee in prayer for people whose lives were lost here,” Bush said. “For the workers who work here, for the families who mourn, the nation stands with the good people of New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.”
Then Bush veered off script, when a worker shouted, ”I can’t hear you.”
“I can hear you!” the president shouted back. “The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
Bush was forced to pause again when the workers in hardhats broke out in chants of “USA, USA.”
In the months and years that followed, America was awash in patriotism. Flags flew from every corner of the country, on manicured front lawns and on dingy pickup trucks. Enrollment surged in the nation’s armed forces.
And no soldier was more revered than Pat Tillman, a former football player who left the NFL at the peak of his career to serve in the U.S. Army after the 9/11 attacks. In 2004, Tillman died in Afghanistan from friendly fire.
The attack produced no shortage of heroes. Among them was Mychal Judge, a Catholic priest, who was the FDNY chaplain. Judge died on Sept. 11, 2001, after he rushed into the North Tower alongside the firefighters he served.
Judge became the first official victim of the terrorist attacks.
“I think he took the goodness part of being a priest to the next level,” Thomas Von Essen, the fire commissioner at the time, said years later. “You’re expected to do certain things as a police officer, a firefighter, a soldier. You’re expected to do certain things as a priest. But then there’s the guy who takes it to the next level. And that was him.”
Next level. Those words also embodied the life of Firefighter Stephen Siller. Siller, 34, was off duty when he strapped on 60 pounds of gear and raced two miles through the Battery Tunnel from Brooklyn to Manhattan to catch up with his squad. Siller and 10 other members of Squad 1 did not survive the terror attack.
His family established a foundation and an annual charity run through the tunnel in his honor. They build houses or pay off mortgages for first responders and military personnel, or their families, who are disabled or killed in the line of duty.
“I’ve been through that tunnel hundreds of times since then,” brother Frank Siller, founder and CEO of the Tunnel2Towers Foundation, said years later. “There’s not a time I go through that tunnel and don’t think about what Stephen did that day.”
But now the world has changed. The attacks left us decimated, in spirit and in structure. When dust caked every inch of lower Manhattan, and a thriving neighborhood resembled a lonely ghost town, when developers had to beg tenants to return, who could have imagined what these last 20 years would bring?
Oh, sure, the city and the country — despite loss, blood and tears — stood tall again. Or, more accurately, did a reasonable facsimile of doing so. Yes, we took life’s hardest shot, and said, “Bring it on.” Even so, there was an undercurrent of dissent and dismay that Americans were once again growing proud of their heritage.
Those days, however, have passed.
We now stand on the other side of 20 years, no longer proud, no longer patriotic and rapidly approaching the time when we are no longer free. We have lost sight of how 9/11 reminded us of the greatness of this nation. In fact, there are people who want to pretend 9/11 did not happen, that it was not an act of terror, that we actually deserved the attacks.
In other words, the terrorists have won.
Again, there are exceptions to those statements and thankfully we are seeing a glimmer of hope that that spark, that love of country, still burns brightly. Like 9/11, the most recent humiliating disaster, that awakening of the Spirit of 1776, is brought on by utter failure.
The attacks were possible because Bill Clinton somehow became convinced computers were better than people, and as a result over three million bits of electronically gathered intelligence (eLint) went unanalyzed. Clinton had fired over 300 intelligence analysts, leaving “analysis” to computers. Unfortunately, those can gather info, but complex analysis, at least in 1999 and 2000, was impossible using eLint only.
A review in 2002 under the Bush administration revealed that, had human review been available, the attacks could have been predicted and quite possibly prevented.
Of course, the ultimate war-on-terror was brought on by Biden’s utter failure in Afghanistan. You wouldn’t know it by watching most media or talking to many of our fellow Americans, though.
Case in point. Owego, New York recently unveiled a new monument marking that terrible day. At the base of the monument is an inscription dedicating the obelisk to the memory of those who died at the hands of “nineteen Islamic terrorists.” An historical fact, right?
Not according to several of the very Leftist members in and around the Owego community. The gist of their comments at a city commission meeting two weeks ago was that those responsible for planning the memorial “should have known better.”
Several people who spoke at August 24 town board meeting criticized the phrase. Some suggested it would be more appropriate if the monument referred simply to “terrorists” or perhaps “Al Qaeda terrorists.”
Town supervisor Donald Castellucci said the memorial was designed to commemorate a “specific event on a specific day” referring to the 19 people who were responsible. He said city “will not be changing the wording on the monument.”
That may seem minor, but it is reflective of a small but very vocal community of Americans who espouse and support far-Left Fascist ideas. Our media is leading the charge.
In the months after the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, about nine in 10 Americans expressed support for the war. Twelve years later, only about three in 10 did, a plunge of 60 percentage points. Never has our support for a war started so high and sunk so low.
But it behooves us to investigate what was behind the fall-off.
The “first” Afghanistan War — the “good” one, 2001-02 — routed Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and their Taliban hosts. The second, which intensified around 2006 after the Taliban regrouped, became the long war. It’s a story of shifting goals, unreliable allies, elusive enemies, lost lives, depleted funds — all obsessively repeated ad nauseum on CNN, MSNBC and the Leftist rags, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Those conflicting, shifting strategies can be laid directly at the feet of Obama, Biden and a political Pentagon that insisted on becoming involved in “nation-building” and in perpetuating the very military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about 60 years ago.
There was a two-fold purpose to Obama-Biden’s approach. Neither had anything to do with defeating al-Qaeda or the Taliban. In fact, quite the opposite.
First, Obama committed far more troops than necessary for a peace-keeping operation but not nearly enough for a counter-insurgency operation. In 2009, he also undermined his own surge of deployments by stating there must be a deadline for full troop withdrawal. It was almost as if Obama wanted the terrorist organizations to rebuild and pose a new threat.
Why would he do that? Given his defense department’s commitment to keeping the military-industrial complex healthy and robust, it is obvious he wanted the war to continue, pouring additional trillions of dollars down a black hole so his biggest contributors in the defense industry could get richer and richer while his generals got set for life with the kickbacks they were paid by defense contractors.
The deciding factor, however, was the appointment of Gen. Stanley McChrystal to head the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). His immediate assessment was that Afghanistan “is a disaster.” That was a truly debatable, perhaps deliberately erroneous statement at the time.
He made the totally unreasonable recommendation that the U.S. and its allies commit over 80,000 more troops to fight the insurgency by the Taliban and remnants of al-Qaeda and the upstart ISIS-K — the group that sent a suicide bomber to the Abbey Gate of Kabul International Airport August 27.
His alternative was to send only 20,000 troops for what he classified as a “dangerous” counterterrorism effort. The U.S. military did not need 20,000 troops for a counterterrorism mission and even half that would not deserve the label “dangerous.” What was the purpose of this gross misrepresentation, this suggestion of two grossly unacceptable options?
Because Obama did not trust the Afghan government and considered then-President Hamid Karzai to be corrupt, he wanted McChrystal to create a set of unacceptable scenarios that would force the military to withdraw from Afghanistan, thus allowing the terrorists to reconstitute. The purpose of that was to allow them to further their efforts to attack the United States.
Wait. A sitting president wanted terrorists to win? What evidence do we have of that?
We need look no further rearward than the last three weeks in Afghanistan. Biden has completed what Obama began. Or rather, his handlers have done so, putting the words in Biden’s mouth and the actions he has taken in his pen.
There is no way anyone, regardless of ideology, is so stupid and incompetent that they do not understand what the best interests of the U.S. are in this case. But they had Biden do the exact opposite of our best interests.
The Fascists wanted Afghanistan to fall, to allow undocumented and largely unvetted Afghan civilians into the U.S. Just as they are doing at the Southern border, their purpose is to undermine the voting strength of patriotic loyal Americans, hoping to head off their inevitable overthrow at the ballot box next year.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt the subversive’s cause if a few real, legitimate terrorists got into the U.S. as well.
Far-fetched? Not in the least. It has been the Democrat strategy — the Fascist strategy — since 12:01 p.m. ET January 20. It has been the purpose of the Fascist Democrats for 20 years to subdue, even stifle, the patriotic surge in the U.S. evident since the attacks on the WTC, the Pentagon and the crash in Shanksville ― a plane likely intended to target the White House or the Capitol Building.
If you do not realize how deeply the hate for America runs among the Left, you’re not paying attention.
Mike Nichols is a conservative, a patriot, U.S. Army veteran, licensed professional counselor, political enthusiast, sports fan and writer living with his beautiful wife Liz in the Heartland. He has a regular blog at America’s Conservative Voice on Substack and a Facebook presence at Americas Conservative Voice-Facebook.