Twenty Years, What Happens Next?
Twenty years passed so quickly—two decades since we were attacked and unified at the same moment. No time in my lifetime of nearly seven decades have I seen a wave of patriotism sweep our nation as it did in 2001. It took a band of thugs from a foreign land to try to take us down but instead brought us together. We were angry. We were hurt. We waved our flag and chanted U-S-A. But where are we now? What happens next?
In September of 2002, only a year after 9-11, I wrote an editorial asking, “Where Have All the Flags Gone?” Like our memories and attention spans, the wave of unity and purpose we felt on that beautiful September morn had faded away. The flags we saw flown from every house, every business, every motorcycle, and yes, every pick-up truck were gone. We could only wish that COVID would pass as quickly as that spirit of 9-11 had. Most of us got back to our everyday lives and priorities. Some of us were more vigilant and wanted answers, accountability, and, yes, retribution. There were reminders each Fall, but nothing rejuvenated those same emotions we had felt in 2001. Instead, we welcomed an era of polarization. That decisiveness appears to be more lasting than patriotism.
We lost over 3,000 souls, most of them at the twin towers. The death toll continues to rise. The dangerous and caustic environment in which the first responders, rescue teams, and demolition workers found themselves has taken another 2,000 lives. This number will continue to grow as the people impacted get older and the health conditions they have due to the time they spent a Ground Zero take their victims. We cannot forget or desert these people, the 9-12 family, who need our help and care before they become another casualty of 9-11.
We need leadership in this country to get us back on track. We know this can be done because we have witnessed how the education system has indoctrinated an entire generation. It took time, but it was planned and systematic. It started with the colleges and universities and worked its way down to the elementary schools. There is no student in grades K-12 alive in 2001, and they are taught little about 9-11. I recently checked a high school American History textbook to see how the story of 9-11 was handled, and I was appalled. There was a one-paragraph entry in the last section of the book. I doubt any history class ever gets that deeply into the text. There is far more attention paid to CRT and The 1619 Project than an actual event that changed our country. We need to find courageous people willing to fight this trend that is poisoning our youth and teach the good about this grand experiment that our brave forefathers created. It will take time, effort and will be met with resistance, but it must be done to save our country. We need the right people to answer the call and for us to support them.
9-11 is behind us. 9-12 is here, and we will ultimately be judged by how we recover and move on from 2001. We have not done so well in the first twenty years, but it is not time to give up; we just need to work harder. We need to get to a place where patriotism is not a word that conjures anger but pride and love of country. We need to replace Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter, and we need to raise the flag and not accept people who will burn it in protest. We need to stand as one for our Nation’s Anthem and be proud to chant U-S-A once again.
God watch over those we have lost, and God Bless the USA.