September 11, 2011 [CLICK HERE to see proper format.]
The tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks finds America in a gradual process of disengaging from two long wars, with deep anxiety about our economic future and widening political divisions in our society. Because some of those problems can be traced to the immense human and financial resources devoted to striking back at the terrorist movement that caused us so much harm, it is worth considering the disturbing question of whether Al Qaeda has achieved a measure of success. Just because we finally managed to kill their leader, Osama bin Laden, does not mean that we have "won the war." It is a struggle that will continue for decades, a stern test of our national resiliency and resolve.
But for now, we are focused on remembering the terrible losses that we suffered on that beautiful late fall day. At Ground Zero, in New York City, President Obama and the man he replced, George W. Bush, stood side by side during memorial ceremonies. That was a fitting gesture of the desire to live up to the slogan, "United We Stand." Similar cermonies took place at the Pentagon and in the field nea Shanksville, Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed into the ground. Who knows where it would have gone had the passengers not thwarted the terrorists' aims -- the U.S. Capitol? The White House?
Here in Staunton, the local fire station unveiled a small monument to the firefighters who died on September 11, including a chunk of twisted metal from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Facebook friend Eric Pritchert posted photos of that.
Our service at Emmanuel Episcopal Church included remarks by someone who was working in Manhattan on that morning ten years ago, as well as a special litany. I thought this passage was especially important:
From prejudice, hatred and a desire for revenge
Savior deliver us.
As I noted to another parishioner after church, the absence of revenge-seeking is one of the central distinguishing characteristics of Christian religion. Certain other religions share that emphasis, while others explicitly justify the "eye for an eye" approach to settling scores. Many who call themselves Christians have fallen prey to the urge to get revenge, forgetting the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. So, let us remember from Romans 12: 21 --
Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.
One wonders whether the annual remembrances of 9/11 will begin to recede in prominence now that the tenth anniversary is behind us. I made note of the fifth anniversary on Sept. 11, 2006 and the eighth anniversary on Sept. 11, 2009. What about fifteen or twenty years from now, or one hundred? There will no doubt still be people alive on Sept. 11, 2101 who will remember the attacks when they were very young.
We Americans have been understandably focused on the terrorist threat to our own homeland, but it is important to remember that the 9/11 attacks were merely one stage in a prolonged war against Western Civilization being waged by Islamic radicals. It truly is a Global War on Terrorism. Here are some other attacks or crucial battles or other key events before and after September 11, 2001, with blog links for those instances where I made comments at the time. The numbers of victims is shown in parentheses, where appropriate.