Do you remember September 10, 2001? What were you doing that day?
More than likely, September 10 was like any other day. People went to work and school. People went grocery shopping and picked up fast food. People watched TV and read books. For most people, September 10, 2001 was unremarkable.
As a nation, we reveled in the supposed peace of the end of the Cold War. We had vanquished our presumed enemies, and our attention had turned to the economy and social welfare. We had eviscerated our intelligence services and decimated our military to pay off the national debt and promise a socially secure future.
Meanwhile, our enemies plotted against us. Russia was meddling in the internal affairs of the young US allies of Georgia and Ukraine and providing nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea.
North Korea was building operational nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Iran was fully engaged in active biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs. Iraq was skimming billions of dollars from the UN to buy weapons and modernize its army best known for unprovoked attacks against its neighbors and its own citizens.
In Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden waited. He had already given the order to Mohammed Ata to attack the United States with his 18 fellow jihadis. Just days before, bin Laden’s al Qaeda had successfully assassinated the leader of the last effective resistance to the Taliban domination of Afghanistan. He waited for the beginning of the next battle in his global jihad.
What were you doing on September 10, 2001? If you were like most Americans, you were asleep, blissfully ignorant of the enemies arrayed against you, a citizen of the nation governed of, by, and for you. If you were like most people, you were convinced that the most important thing going on was the light recession of the US economy.
If you were like most people, you were uninterested in words like Khobar Towers, Nairobi, or USS Cole. You had no idea that the war raging for at least a decade was about to slam into your heart and mind with airplanes and fire and death.
On 9-11, everything changed. At least it should have. On that day, the reality of the world beyond the American Dream shook us to our core. For the first time in decades, our enemies drove the lesson that our way of life requires eternal vigilance home.
The question now is whether we are still changed. It has been seven years since September 10, 2001. Have we fallen back to sleep? Have we forgotten the terrible lesson of 9-11?
I believe we may have, and if we have, we already know what the consequences will be: we have already lived them.