Worldview: 9-11

Thirteen years on, it’s hard not to be negative on a day like today. The memories are still fresh, though perhaps finally tinged with that halo that begins to surround an intensely lived day, fresh enough that I see our nation making the same mistakes it once did, believing that somehow it can get away with this time things no nation ever has.

None of this should really be a surprise for anyone who has paid attention to history. It is almost if history curses great nations to make such mistakes. It is almost if history demands people ignore what they once knew with such intensity.

Yet, I have not forgotten, nor will I. I remember the nearly 3,000 people who died because a cancerous ideology declared death to America. I have not forgotten that the war America’s enemies–the world’s enemies–declared is one they have been fighting for a very long time and will fight for a very long time more. I have not forgotten that my nation needs me, once as a soldier and now as a citizen.

I have not forgotten. Look around you. Have you?

Dennis L Hitzeman

11 September 2014

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Worldview: Uncomfortable Infamy

A guest post by Pete Hitzeman

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.”

–Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 8, 1941

 

It’s another one of my favorite and least favorite days. Like Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and now Patriot Day, Pearl Harbor Day is one in which people update their Facebook statuses with pictures and quotes, briefly put on somber faces, and talk about remembering and honoring those who died. And then they tick the box of their annual moral obligation for another year, and go on looking at pictures of cats with things on their heads.

I submit that while remembering and honoring are fine and noble things, would it not be more useful, indeed more appropriate to talk about what happened and why? Would not the voices of those honored dead beg us to prevent future tragedies in any way possible? I don’t think we can honor their sacrifice properly without diligently trying to learn from and prevent the circumstances that precipitated the necessity of that sacrifice. This sort of discussion, while uncomfortable, is important, and today is an appropriate time to have it, lest we put it off indefinitely and fail to take its hard lessons.

The most painful lessons of days like today and 9/11 was that they didn’t have to happen. In the weeks, days and hours leading up to each of those attacks, there were signs that were ignored, intelligence that was discounted, and warnings that went unheeded. More than that, the circumstances that facilitated the possibility of those attacks were rooted in flawed policy and naïve beliefs about the nature of the world. Almost inexplicably, there are many today pontificating that we should again espouse those very same policies and beliefs.

I believe that the men and women who died on those days would be far happier if we were trying to figure out how to prevent future similar events, rather than simply “honoring” them with some sort of superficial sobriety.

This is part of a larger issue, for me. It is “impolite” to discuss difficult things (like politics) in polite company. It is “inappropriate” to talk about the reasons we have to send our young men into battle on the days we have selected to honor their service and sacrifice. The result of this mindset is, to me, that we never discuss those difficult things because they are uncomfortable, and that has led to redundant wars that cost us lives and strain our nation, and a political system so broken that no one believes it can be fixed. We should, and we must start having these discussions, and I can think of no better time, so long as it is done respectfully, than days like today.

An objective assessment of the histories of the two largest attacks on American sovereignty in the past century lays bare the fallacy, still being advanced as truth today, that if we leave the world alone, it will return the favor. One of the principal challenges of being a global superpower is that we must, in the interest of our own survival, discover and engage threats to us, our allies and our interests at home and abroad, before they precipitate into full scale assaults on our homeland and civilian populace. If we fail to do so, if we forget or ignore the lessons offered by the catastrophes of our past, we are guaranteeing that in the future, we will have to set aside yet more days to remember our fallen. And that in no way honors those who have already died.

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Worldview: 9-11

I solemnly swear that I will always remember what happened on September 11, 2001.

I will not forget.

I will not forget that nearly 3,000 of my fellow Americans were murdered in the name of an ideology of hate.

I will not forget that my inalienable right is liberty.

I will not forget that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

I will not forget that the price of liberty is mine to pay.

I will not forget my brothers and sisters who give freely of themselves to ensure the liberty of others.

I will not stand by and watch my liberty or anyone else’s be taken away.

And I affirm that I will do everything within my power to uphold and advance the cause of liberty.

I will succeed on the merits of my own work.

I will, as I am able, encourage and help others to do the same.

I will not forget charity.

I will stand for liberty for as long as I have breath.

And when my time comes, I will do my best to ensure what I have done lays the foundation for those who follow after.

To this I pledge myself, my honor, and my life. May the God of my fathers grant me success.

Dennis L Hitzeman

September 11, 2011

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Worldview: 9-10

Sometimes, it seems like it was just yesterday. I remember sitting at my desk at work when the news the first plane hit broke. We were all clustered around the television when the second one did. A dozen military men, we all knew, even at that moment: we were at war.

In the next few days, the speculation in the circles I traveled in at the time was rampant, but many of us had a feeling: al Qaeda. The memory of the attack on the USS Cole was fresh enough that they were the first and most likely suspect. Who else would hijack planes as weapons? Yet we knew, whoever it was that did this to us, we were at war.

In the next weeks and months, our government confirmed that the attack was, indeed, carried out by al Qaeda, and our commander-in-chief dedicated us to rooting them out of Afghanistan and delivered a stern warning to the world: stand with us or stand against us. There was no middle ground. We were at war.

Except we weren’t.

A lot of people said in the days after 9-11 that everything changed, and in a way they were right. In the days since that horrible event, and unbelievable number of Americans have convinced themselves that everything but the truth is true.

Ivory tower academics and self-deluded pundits declare that America was to blame for what happened on 9-11. The news and the internet are full of journalists and talking heads insisting that our response to those events were overwrought, unjustified, even criminal. An entire segment of American society chose to respond to the recent death of Osama bin Laden by chiding Americans for celebrating the death of a bloodthirsty enemy.

In the ten years since 9-11, something has changed, something deep, sinister, and self-destructive. We now live in an era when a rapper can declare “Fuck the army troops” and claim gangsters are harder than combat veterans and people just shrug. We live in a society when reporters can write and say that the war in Afghanistan was an unjustified exercise in nation building, and most people believe that is true.

Instead of being at war with our enemy, we are at war with ourselves, and we seem very close to victory.

The sad fact of 9-11 ten years on is that, I believe, we have doomed ourselves to repeat history like we have so many times before. We have not learned anything. Instead, we have deceived ourselves into believing in a reality that never has been true, and it is almost inevitable that we will pay the price for that deception again.

For me, what remains ten years since 9-11 is the lingering thought that those of us who understood what changed that day must prepare ourselves and anyone who might listen for the eventuality of what may come next. We have to face the fact that things have changed and that someone has to be ready, even if everyone else believes it can’t possibly happen.

For those of us who get it, who understand what changed ten years ago, we cannot forget, we cannot tire, we cannot fail. Let’s roll.

DLH

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