This is a reprint of my thoughts September 2001. When this was written casualty estimates were 5, 000 or more. Much has changed since then. A new generation born. We’re still fighting, although sometimes I think we may have lost track of the real enemy. The one who speaks eloquently and dresses in a designer suit.
September 11, 2001
By J. D. Pendry
Does everything except the attack on our country seem trivial to you? It certainly does to me. My routine is disrupted, my website is in desperate need of updating, actually, most things I attend to routinely need attention, yet it all seems a little unimportant to me now. When compared with what 5000 others and countless of their friends and family members and our country have endured, yes it all seems rather trivial.
I have tried to think through what has happened to us during this unforgettable September week. The images of crumbling symbols of our country are constantly replaying for me both on television and in my mind. I think of the many people who went to work as on any day and have yet to come home – personal friends included. This incident, an unspeakable act of mass murder, is running around in my mind searching for reasons. Our country is in a vulnerable state now, and we must reason through things before we act. Our shock has turned to grief, our grief to rage and our rage into a demand for revenge. I believe at the end of the day what is right will prevail but, what we cannot do is match evil for evil.
What follows are a rambling spattering of my thoughts. They may not seem coherent at times, but this is how I try to figure things out. I hold no PhD’s, I’m not much of an expert at anything, but I have some things to get off my chest so to speak. Then I can move on with the rest of America and deal with this blight on humanity.
Religion, what an interesting phenomenon it is. Over many years in our country, we have systematically removed all references to God from our government, schools and practically any public place where the civil libertarians decide that someone might be exposed to faith when they didn’t want it. Isn’t it interesting that one of the first places everyone turns for answers and protection in times such as these is God? Our congress stood together on the steps of the Capitol and sang God Bless America and our President led us in a national prayer service. I didn’t notice one civil libertarian out there pointing a finger saying you can’t do that. Why do you think that is? It’s as I said at the beginning, those thoughts and ideas are just too trivial to deal with right now. I am comfortable with my faith, but I must admit that I have visited with my creator in prayer a little more than what is usual for me over the past few days. What I have witnessed recently brings to mind one of my favorite quotes. I’ve referred to it often and it sits at the top of my web page.
Our God and soldiers we
Ev’n at the brink of danger; not before;
After deliverance, both alike requited,
Our God’s forgotten, and our soldiers slighted.
– Francis Quarles, 1632
It would be nice to finally disprove this thought after nearly four hundred years.
Religion has another part in this. First, we must dispel any thoughts that we are about to enter into a war against Islam. I heard the President mention the word “crusade” this morning while talking. I also saw him cringe slightly after saying it. I know that I cringed, and I know that before I finish typing my thoughts here, it’ll likely be the headline of some newspaper. This, however, is not a religious war we are about to get into. Instead, it’s a war against criminals and now I’m going to tell you why I believe that. Osama Bin Laden and his ilk are criminals. Very smart and calculating, but criminals all the same. We already know what happens when thugs end up running a country. Bin Laden is wealthy and educated. JDs old country boy theory is that Bin Laden and his kind hope to rule the entire region where he now hides. I may get some hate mail for this comment, but Bin Laden like the Butcher of Baghdad are nothing more than middle eastern Hitler’s and Americans – all westerners actually – are their Jews. These criminals use their influence and their knowledge of the Islamic faith to convince poor and undereducated people that the West, led by “The Great Satan” America, is the reason for their predicament. Using their twisted interpretations, they teach them that the reason they don’t have is because we do have. They’re also taught that the only way to better the world is to destroy the West, but mostly America and if they give up their lives while doing so, they will get their reward. Getting the great reward and being a hero appeals to the gullible mind of one who is also destitute. What motivates criminals is wealth and power. Bin Laden has the wealth; he is now seeking the power.
Is our country willing? Are we willing to endure restrictions on our personal liberties that must happen for the defense and safety of our country? Are we willing to endure more American casualties in what will likely be sustained combat operations unlike anything this country has experienced in years? Are we willing?
Will we measure up? We’ve all debated for some time about the quality of America’s new soldiers and whether or not they will measure up in times such as these. I believe those debates are much like the civil liberties debates, too trivial to pursue just now. We were attacked in our homeland. We are not going off to some piss ant mud hole like Somalia with an unclear mission. Our soldiers, young and old, past and present, have witnessed destruction and the death of innocents perpetuated by a group of people who want to destroy everything we hold dear. Yep, they’ll measure up – they’ll more than measure up.
We must all continue to deal with our rage. What is the source of that rage? For me, it was an unprovoked attack on my country and my way of life. I was the senseless loss of friends and the thoughts of the dreadful impact it had on their families. It’s that same rage multiplied 5000 times. My rage comes from a lifetime of standing ready to actually defend “my” country, then the one time it’s attacked being utterly helpless to do anything but watch it on TV. Now, I’m left with a need, a deep need, to somehow make it right for those lost and to punish without remorse those who visited this on my home.
What is justice? Is it bringing the likes of Bin Laden here for a trial? Relying on my country boy philosophy, I would suggest that to be about as useful as tits on a boar hog. This justice thing is funny however. I doubt that you could find any reasonable person that does not believe that we are right and that “justice” is on our side in whatever we pursue. It’s funny however, because it’s likely that you won’t find one Bin Laden supporter who doesn’t believe it’s on theirs. The real question is are we as committed to seeing justice brought on this group as they were.
Where do we find the resolve to see this through? I can’t answer this question for America. I can only answer it for myself. Out of the smoke and rubble in New York and at the Pentagon, I see a square-jawed, raw-boned old gentleman picking himself up. His top hat is missing from his white-haired head and he’s dusting himself off. There is grim determination on his face. As he rolls his sleeves, I see a clenched fist and knuckles scarred from previous battles. This is the spirit of America. Our tallest buildings and landmarks can be destroyed one by one. Our spirit cannot. Behind this old gent, are thousands of souls from this and past battles. You see Bin Laden we too have faith. We know that bodies can be destroyed by your kind but souls cannot. These souls have stood their judgment and soon you will stand yours. May God have mercy on your soul.
© 2001 J. D. Pendry, J. D. Pendry’s American Journal, All Rights Reserved