Many photos and stories will be seen and told today of survivors and heroes out of New York. Some in each category were first responders. Others were not. Those who wear a uniform are trained and know they may be subject to any kind of danger at any time. They may be heroes on any day. The magnitude of 9/11 and what individuals overcame to go in was beyond their everyday hero status. No one could have prepared them to do what they did. They went in anyway.
Others were flying over a field in Pennsylvania and figured out what was going to happen with their plane. They tried to save themselves and also the ultimate targets of the terrorists who had hijacked their plane.
They were ordinary Americans who found their inner strength, joined together in a flash, and took unbelievably brave action that likely saved many other lives, had that plane continued all the way to Washington instead of going down in a field.
We lost many heroes at the Pentagon that day as well, and many bravely ran in to save fellow workers and others after a third plane was guided directly into this symbol of our national security. Often there is little mention of the Pentagon or Pennsylvania losses in the press alongside the New York stories.
We are free. When united, we can rise.
Every thought of the 9/11 attacks against our country and those heroes that rose up brings to mind the thousands of men and women serving overseas to protect us. It brings to mind the need for clarity from both parties for a plan on bringing them out safely. It recalls thousands who have died in uniform. Tens of thousands who have returned gravely, irreparably injured for life. We owe them health care—physical and mental—for life as well. We also owe them all our gratitude.
We are free. We owe our liberty to those before us and those willing to defend it.
Whatever plan may keep our troops abroad and engaged, Americans deserve to hear about it from both parties. We deserve to hear from not just presidential candidates, but from all lower offices as well. Congress and the Senate are the ones who vote through plans and funding, from sending ‘em over, to paying for equipment, to funding housing and health care on return.
They are making decisions about intelligence plans and funding, diplomatic plans and funding, and (one hopes) long-term economic strategy.
We should move on from politicians that want to talk about honoring 9/11 but who don’t talk about the wars we are conducting because they are unpopular topics with most voters.
Watching both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention, it was gravely disappointing to hear almost nothing about national security issues. Not shocking, just disappointing. Republicans spent much of their time trying to prove Romney was a more fun, feeling guy than we might think he is. Democrats spent much of their time trying to prove Obama is popular with the Hollywood crowd. It’s a tough call which is worse. Neither thing matters in a president.
We need a skilled, competent president that can organize the government and its finances to run efficiently, from intelligence agencies to economic development to education to health. These are issues a responsible press would be covering more of—with less emphasis on what barbeque sauce is favorite or who is better to play golf with.
If you want to honor those who fell on 9/11, require discussion and real answers from all of our politicians, from the presidential candidates down to the smallest local office. Call for local media to cover those stories, in an unbiased way, so you can get the information you need. Go to meetings and town halls.
Educate yourself and then vote.
It is a privilege to live in this country and be free, but duty comes with privilege.
We are free. We won’t forget. We will rise.