Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Friday, September 12, 2003

Here is a letter written the morning of 9/11/03 by a very good friend of mine who now lives in San Diego, I am happy and honored that he asked me to publish it here:

As I woke up this morning, I obviously had an awareness of the date; that two years ago today occurred the most horrific American tragedy committed on our soil it's hard to be an American and not at least have an awareness of the significance of September 11. As I got out of the shower and went into my bedroom and turned on the same TV on the same dresser in my bedroom as I did two years ago, almost to the minute, I watched the memorials in Arlington National Cemetery, the children of victims of the World Trade Center attacks, and the memorial in Pennsylvania for the victims of Flight 93, and I was overcome with a powerful mixture of sadness, grief, and anger, all in larger quantities than I can ever remember feeling. I've never lost anyone in my immediate family, never lost a friend or teammate or co-worker -- this tragedy is probably the most painful loss I've endured, and I didn't even personally know anyone who died on September 11, 2001.

As I watched those children announce about 20 or so names each at the World Trade Center memorial, finishing with the name of their respective fathers or mothers who lost their life on that day, I tried to imagine what it must have felt like to experience such a powerful loss. They had no idea when they kissed their Moms and Dads goodbye that fateful morning that it would be the last time they would see the person who brought them into this world, raised them, cared for them and nurtured them, hoped to see them graduate high school and get married and have kids of their own. Even after the whole country became aware of the attacks that morning, I'm sure they knew their mom or dad worked in the World Trade Center, and they had to endure an entire day at school or work, wondering whether or not their father made it out, or whether he was one of the more than 3000 people who died that morning. I tried to imagine how they felt, thinking "my mommy flew on a plane out of New Jersey this morning" and having to wonder if her plane was one of the ones that crashed so horrifically that morning. I couldn't even comprehend what that must have felt like. I can think back to times in my life when I've had to wait for the results of something as mundane or relatively trivial as a test score or an acceptance letter, how slow the day seemed to go by, the countless times I would play and replay the possible outcomes in my head. Can you imagine having to wonder "Is my dad dead?" Did he make it out alive?" Will I ever see my mother again?" Then to come home from school that day, to see the look on their mother's face, and to come to find out they've lost their father forever. Or to come home and find no one there at all. There is no anticipation of such a loss, as is when we lose loved ones to disease, no closure as we can attend a wake to say goodbye. The presence of someone so important to their life was simply stripped away, never to return, no closure to be found, no goodbyes to be made. Gone forever are their mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, friends and co-workers -- people that are so very much a part of our lives one day, then gone and never to return the next.

As I tried to comprehend such remorse within, my thoughts then leapt to the cause of such immense pain and hurt to the countless families in our great country that were affected by that loss on 9/11. I realized -- not one single person who was in that building or on those planes asked for such a fate. Not one family member who lost a loved on that morning could have anticipated what happened, nor did they in any way do anything to deserve such a fate. They were all at work, or headed to a destination, contributing to the greater good of our country in a peaceful manner -- they were not out, injecting hate and fear and even considering the taking of innocent lives. I highly doubt that even one of the 3000+ innocent American civilians we lost that day woke up that morning and even cursed the name of the Islamic extremists, or thought to themselves "I hope a few people from the Middle East die today."

We are not the ones who brought this hatred and murder into our world. They are. We are not the ones who initiated such a horrific, murderous act of war. They are. We are not the ones who sought out to destroy the lives of so many people, innocent people, people whose paths have probably never even crossed. THEY ARE. I feel as if people often forget that -- people not only around the world, but also within the borders of our own great nation. Had those murderous acts of September 11, 2001 not taken place, does anyone believe that we would be on the forefront of a global war as we are today? We are not the instigators of this battle with terrorism. This war was brought to us, on our soil, from the wreckage of the World Trade Centers, right down to the hearts and souls of the families and loved ones who remain. If our President feels even a fraction of the sadness and anger that I do today, he must have the same overwhelming desire that I do to avenge the deaths of those innocent Americans. If the pain of those thousands of families can transcend his emotions as it has mine, he must at the very least want to do anything and everything in his power to ensure that our country does not suffer another heartbreak and bloodshed as it did on 9/11. And as I watch the news and read the papers, and see the pain and loss in the eyes of those children, and feel the incredible sadness within for the tragic loss of innocent lives, I still read as the surviving Al Qaeda network continues to threaten our country, even on this day. The heartless bastards can't even give us a day to mourn the immense loss we felt two years ago, a loss they caused. They continue to threaten our national security, our civilians, our country, even on the day when we as a country hurt the most. This threat is very real, it is not going away, and most importantly, it was not instigated by us.

So as we as a nation mourn today, still under the threat of attack from a group of people that have such hatred in their blood that they would disrespect our right to mourn as a nation, after they took so many Americans -- innocent Americans like you and me -- out of this world without any provocation -- I ask each of you to think of what it would feel like if you came home from work today to find out you lost a loved one in another attack. What would it feel like if another attack occurred this morning, at a building where a loved one of yours worked or lived, and you had to spend the entire day wondering if that kiss you gave your wife, son or daughter was your last? What if you had to come to the realization that this morning was the last time you will ever see your father or mother again? Without any choice, without any warning, without any closure, that someone who brought so much love into your life was taken away for you, when they didn't even do anything wrong? If you could anticipate such a horrible thing happening to you, would you still believe we truly should stand down and ignore such a threat? If you could prevent such a great and tragic loss in some way, would you?

What would you do?

Joe Burnett
San Diego, CA

Right on Joe, thanks for the thoughts.


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