To Dishonor 9/11

If you lost a loved one or were directly confronted with the horror of September 11, 2001, it is a day that will likely recede slowly, if it all, in its pain and gravity.

But most of us experience that day as a touchstone memory, a “where was I” moment.

There are now millions born since that day who have no tangible connection to the attack.

For them, 9/11 is a Pearl Harbor or JFK assassination, something to be learned about in the abstract; known but never felt.

There is one group for whom 9/11 is consistently relevant as both the beginning of a marathon mission and a call to sacrifice: the U.S. military.

Since 2001, at least 2,400 service members have been killed and over 20,000 wounded in Afghanistan, many of them with grave and permanent injuries.

To truly honor the memory of 9/11 is to recognize the sustained courage of America’s men and women in uniform over the nineteen years of our Afghan involvement.

How shocking then to have a U.S. commander-in-chief refer to members of our armed forces, including those killed in action, as “suckers” and “losers.”

It is an attack on Constitutional Democracy as it weakens the fabric of our society.

Insulting war dead is the act of a coward and to condone it is to be disgraced by association.

Dying in the service of one’s country is the cherished proof of commitment to a larger ideal.

How can a leader expect the ultimate sacrifice from young men and women after such rhetoric?

In saying those things he ignores the tenets of leadership.

This September 11th is a pivotal moment in our history and it recalls to mind an earlier time and leader, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln, in 1858, not yet president, mused about a strife-torn country, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

At this solemn moment we are at a similar crossroads where nothing less than the restoration of humanity is the task at hand.

Vilifying American war heroes is intellectually and morally incompatible with honoring those killed on September 11th, 2001, and the subsequent years.

Decent Americans, mindful of Lincoln’s advice, know just what to do and how to do it.

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Firefighter, DC City Guide and Part-Time Sailor

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