More questions than answers may be the true legacy of 9/11
Twelve years ago tomorrow. What has become of us as a nation in the dozen years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001?
Do you feel more secure while pursuing life, liberty and happiness?
Since that fateful day, political leaders from both parties have, through a variety of questionable actions, squandered the unity we forged in the aftermath of the attacks until today we’re as divided a nation as at any time since the Civil War.
A decade of suspicious forays in the Middle East have eroded our national will to the point where President Barack Obama likely will fail to get the concurrence of Congress to respond in Syria. This fact also calls into question what might happen if we faced a real threat closer to home.
Interception of our phone calls and Internet communications in the name of public safety by an administration we’d all agree tilts to the left has most of us upset, rather than grateful.
The same members of Congress who waste time with 40 unsuccessful votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act they allege is a financial albatross see nothing wrong with spending billions on incomplete fences with no proof they make our borders more secure.
Does death by remote control with its attendant “collateral damage,” guided from mysterious buildings across the border in Utah, make us better or worse than those we target in the name of “national security?”
Here in Mesa County, who’d be first to raise their hands if asked they were absolutely confident the drones that have given our sheriff’s office national publicity will always be used for only the “plain vanilla” purposes pledged?
Especially when local law enforcement ignores publicized lawbreaking on the steps of the county courthouse on the Fourth of July as local “patriots” exchange now-illegal gun magazines and while county sheriffs, including our own, challenge and selectively enforce laws and they don’t support.
With apologies to the Chamber of Commerce, the Visitor and Convention Bureau and Grand Junction Economic Partnership, does anyone else wonder why we need about 100 Transportation Security Administration employees and a tall black fence around a relatively backwater airport next to, if not actually in, the middle of nowhere?
Pointing to the lack of attacks as proof of success is akin to saying the absence of giraffes and elephants on the streets of Grand Junction is because our local so-called patriots have wiped out ammo supplies at Cabelas, Jerry’s and Sportsmen’s Warehouse.
For the first few years after 9/11, I helped put together commemorations at Suplizio Field, replete with flyovers by military aircraft, patriotic speeches and deserved honors to those here at home and in the armed services who protect us with their willingness to run toward, not away from, real, not imagined, dangers.
One of those years, crosses were planted in the Lincoln Park turf, one for each of the roughly 3,000 victims who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Today, I’m ashamed to admit, I’d have to look up the last names of Jimmy and Michael, two co-workers of my late brother whose names I placed on a couple of those crosses.
Sept. 11, 2001, is etched as deeply in my memory as Nov. 22, 1963. I recall the gasp from my sister-in-law as she saw the second plane hit the towers while talking with her on my cell phone as I drove near Rifle just as vividly as I remember the sobs of my classmate, Bea Schmidt, as she told me in the hallway of Grand Junction High School that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.
Later this week, I may go down to Sixth Street and Ute Avenue to watch the formal lighting of the acrylic replicas of the Twin Towers that support a piece of metal recovered from the debris of the World Trade Center. Local artist Pat Olson has added that sculpture near his original 9/11 commemoration moved from Seventh and Main streets to the front of refurbished Fire Station No. 1.
It would have been fitting to add this inscription:
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin.