remember September 11
Just about everyone old enough remembers where they were when they heard out about the attacks on 9/11/01. But too many Americans, especially leaders of the Democratic Party, remember the attacks but have forgotten the collective national pain and the reasons we were attacked. They want to return to the appeasement that made the terrorists strong.
We now have a President who believes that terrorism must be defeated, a welcome change from the previous eight years as under Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. Under their leadership, the U.S. government returned to the pre-9/11 mindset of treating terrorist acts as crimes, and the terrorists as criminals who can be rehabilitated. President Trump believes that terrorists must be defeated.
It was nineteen years ago, but the memory of driving into Manhattan at six a.m. that day (as I did every day) is still fresh in my mind. For some reason, as my car made its way over the bridge leading to the Midtown Tunnel, I gazed downtown at the two towers of the World Trade Center, thinking that it was a particularly beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. Little did I know that just a few hours later, that clear view of the towers would be replaced by an impenetrable black veil. A veil that indicated America —indeed, the entire world would be changed forever.
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About three hours after leaving the house, I was sitting in my office at Nickelodeon (I was the publisher of Nickelodeon Magazine), and working on the 2002 projections for management. Suddenly AOL IM from my brother Paul popped up on my screen, “Hey Jeff, some idiot just flew a plane into one of the trade center towers.”
2001 was before one could watch T.V. on a computer. However, one advantage of working for a cable T.V. network was the television hooked up to Time Warner Cable in my office.
After reading Paul’s I.M., I quickly grabbed the remote and turned on MSNBC (it was a real news network back then). As soon as the picture cleared, the T.V. showed a plane flying into one of the Trade Center towers. My immediate thought was they were broadcasting an instant replay of what my brother messaged me about. But that assumption was wrong— it was a live broadcast of the second tower being hit. Whether we liked it or not, America was under attack.
As news of the attack spread, Manhattan shut down, all bridges and tunnels were closed, stranding commuters in their office buildings.
My Nickelodeon team crowded into my office. We watched in horror as some victims chose to jump out of a burning tower to their deaths rather than burn to death in their offices. We saw the smoldering Pentagon building and finally watched each tower collapse. They heard the rumors of a fourth plane that was shot down over Pennsylvania. And T.V. anchors started talking about possible anthrax attacks.
Everybody watching the horror had the same thought, “This can’t happen—don’t those terrorists know this is the United States of America?”
But it was happening. And some of it was happening less than a mile and a half from where we sat. It could be seen out of my office window. Terrorists attacked downtown Manhattan, near Wall Street, the epicenter of the largest economy in the world. Then they struck the Pentagon, home of the most powerful military on Earth. And only because of the bravery of passengers on a fourth plane, the U.S. Capitol or the White House was saved. The passengers heard what was going on and attacked the terrorists who had taken control of their flight. Under attack, the terrorists purposely crashed their plane killing everyone aboard.
At twelve noon, there was an announcement that bridges and tunnels were open again, allowing people (like me) to travel back to Long Island.
I called my wife to tell her I was coming home, she begged me to stay put, fearing another attack. But I had to get home and be with my family. I raced for the garage in the basement of Nickelodeon headquarters and began what a 40-mile trip that usually took 90-minutes because of traffic. But on that day, the drive home took way over four hours.
Leaving the building, which was too close to the smoldering ruins of the towers, one could taste the air. Breathing felt strange. The air had a texture. It felt like particles of glass or sand were mixed in with the oxygen, and it tasted almost like burning rubber.
Manhattan always seemed larger than life, but on that day, it was small and vulnerable. And it wasn’t just Manhattan– all of a sudden, the United States of America, the most powerful nation on Earth, the shining city upon a hill, seemed vulnerable.
As my car slowly moved its way toward the 59th Street bridge, Manhattan looked like a scene from one of those bad “Godzilla” movies released in the 1960s. There were crowds of shocked people walking across the bridge on foot, trying to get off the now tiny island of Manhattan as soon as possible. According to the news, that scene was duplicated on the other NYC bridges.
But this was not “Chiller Theater” hosted by the cool creepy Zacherley which broadcast old horror movies on Channel 11 every Saturday Night. This was horribly real.
Looking out the car window toward downtown Manhattan, the beautiful skyline and cloudless sky noticeable during the drive to work earlier that day was replaced by an impenetrable curtain of black over the East River. The aroma of the invigorating autumn air was replaced by a noxious burning smell seeping into my car through the air vents.
Understandably millions of people in the big apple were trying to use their cell phones at the same time, leading to overwhelmed cell towers and non-existent service. Three hours into the drive, I finally reached my now frantic wife to tell her I was out of Manhattan and perfectly safe.
Eventually, my car made it out of the borough of Queens, into Nassau County and onto the Long Island Expressway (LIE), sometimes known as the world’s largest parking lot. But the LIE wasn’t a parking lot on September 11. The traffic wasn’t just light; it was eerily non-existent (especially on the westbound lanes which led back into the city). Every single westbound exit ramp had a Nassau County police car blocking the way.
The message the police cars were sending was clear, people were free to leave New York City, but no one was getting back into Manhattan until the authorities knew for sure this attack on the continental U.S. was over.
Finally, reaching home, the rest of the day was spent watching the first reports of heroism and the initial serendipitous reports of people who were delayed from being at their offices in the towers on time—saving their lives.
At 7:45 pm, as I usually did, it was time to leave the house again and go Synagogue for the evening minyan. Usually, there was a group of 15-20 people at evening prayers, but this day was different. People felt the need to talk to their creator. The sanctuary began to fill up in groups.
Congregants whose Synagogue appearances were usually limited to Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur showed up. Each one (including me) had a dull shocked look on their face as they slowly walking into the sanctuary. Our usual minyan crowd of less than two dozen expanded to more than three hundred people. They were desperate to appeal to God for the safety of their friends and family whose fates were still unknown, and for the success of their country in the war they knew would follow.
This scene was duplicated in houses of God, for many faiths from ‘sea to shining sea.”
September 11 was not the first terrorist attack against the United States. It was foreshadowed by the first Trade Center bombing and the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, to name a few. Those attacks came after years of worldwide appeasement of terror in other areas of the world, especially in Israel. But instead of heeding those warnings, the Western world’s actions toward terrorists such as Yasser Arafat was to appease them with concessions. Those concessions taught radical Islamists that terrorism was a legitimate form of political expression.
It was only after 9/11/01 this country realized that there was a worldwide network of people willing to kill themselves to bring down our way of life. Only after 9/11/01 did we stop searching for “criminals” and begin a war against Islamist terrorists
Despite what some called it, we were fighting a war against Islamists who use terrorism in their efforts to destroy the West— our freedoms and lifestyle. They were radical Muslims who use violence in their quest to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate. Theirs was a very patient ideology. They are willing to wait for centuries, if necessary, to kill the evil “great Satan,” also known as the United States. That’s one of their advantages over the West, they are very patient. America is has a culture that demands immediate gratification, instant victory. However, this remains a generational struggle. The zealots who want to destroy the West is waiting for America to give up the fight. And the moment America stops fighting, the radicals will ramp up the fight no matter if it takes five years or five hundred. This doesn’t mean fighting endless wars–it means being honest about what the radicals want and giving intelligence systems the freedom to “see” what they are doing, to prevent attacks.
Eleven years after the 2001 attacks, on 9/11/12, when terrorists attacked our mission in Benghazi, Libya, we were told it wasn’t terror. And to prove their point, the Obama/Biden team invented a story that the attack was just an angry mob, rioting because of a lousy anti-Muslim video on Youtube. The true story of how that lie was developed can be read in a great book by Ken Timmerman, called Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed for Benghazi .”
During that 2012 attack, our leaders tried to make America feel as if the attack was our fault. When the Boston Marathon was attacked, we called it terror but “lone wolf” type terror, instead of attacking the terrorists who radicalized the two murderers. Our leaders at the time called The Orlando terrorist attack “our fault.” That time Americans were blamed for not canceling the Second Amendment. But the Obama/Biden team deflected the blame away from Islamic zealots and ignored the fact we were actually fighting new battlefronts in a multi-generational war. We now have a leadership which understands.
America cannot forget why 9/11/01 happened because whenever we forget, the Islamic terrorists who attacked that horrible day find a way to remind us.
Sadly far too many people have forgotten the taste of the air, the curtain of black smoke, the scenes of horror, acts of bravery–everything associated with September 11, 2001. Nineteen years after that horrendous Tuesday morning, far too many answer Darryl Worley’s epic song, “Have You Forgotten?” with “yes” (the song is embedded at the bottom of this post).
Whatever your faith is, please pray for the victims of 9/11 and their bereaved families, the hero first responders, and the United States of America on this, the nineteenth anniversary of 9/11/01 and every day.
Lord who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers, Whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning the entire universe and all eternities; Who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters – may you bless the President, the Vice President, and all the constituted officers of government of this land. May they execute their responsibilities with intelligence, honor, compassion and love for the constitution wonderfully crafted by our founding fathers. May you grant them the understanding that the threat of terrorism still exists, and the knowledge of how to eradicate it from the world you created. May you always bless these United States and provide our leaders with the comprehension of your role in making this republic the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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