It was a perfect late summer day. At 7 a.m. My Mom and I were on 35W going to downtown Minneapolis for me to have major foot surgery. In surgery the nurse came in to tell us that a plane had hit the WTC. The doctor commented that he and his wife had been at the top of the WTC that Sunday, 9 September, to say good bye to their daughter who was going overseas to study. A half hour later we heard of the South Tower. After surgery ,as Mom and I got off the elevator, I looked at the TV monitor in the Medical Arts Building hallway. I remember thinking as I saw the view from south Manhattan, the huge clouds of smoke and dust "Where are the towers?" And then saw the lower screen crawl "WTC Towers have collapsed". Driving home, we were listening to Hugh Hewitt (he was on early in the morning). We heard of a plane crash in Pennsylvania. I told my Mom "That plane was part of this. I bet the pilot crashed the plane." I wanted to hear Frank Gaffney's thoughts as he was called on Hugh's show. When we got home (my Mom was playing nurse for me) I got a call from the guy I worked with. He and his wife had just gotten off the phone with the FBI. His cousin is Chic Burlingame. Mr. Burlingame was the pilot on American Airlines Flight 77 that had hit the Pentagon. Late that night, we received a call from my college buddy John who lives in Brooklyn, has an office in midtown Manhattan. He let us know he was OK. I earlier had made two calls to New York-one to his office, one to his home, all without connecting. He told us he had heard the first plane hit, went outside and saw all the rest in real time.
I once heard a "journalist" (now a pejorative) refer to our "fear that day". Fear. FEAR? I felt rage. A rage I had never, ever experienced before! That afternoon I asked my Mom if I could borrow the car for about twenty minutes. I drove down to Valley West Shopping Center. There were a recruiting offices at the Center. I walked in. Lo and behold, the only office open was the Marine Recruiting Office. I walked in, foot heavily bandaged, 52 years old and 60# overweight and asked if I could enlist. The recruiting sergeant was more than delicate and diplomatic. He was kind. I was as serious as a heart attack. But, I was angry. No, that's too gentile a description. I was engulfed in rage. Walking out I realized I wasn't going to be a Marine that day.
Hugh Hewitt has bumper music from "The Last of the Mohicans" called "The Courier". For years afterwards, when Hugh played that selection, I was right back to that day, those memories, those feelings. And one day it occurred to me "I don't want to forget. Ever. I don't want to lose my rage. Ever. I want to have these feelings, never to lose them or have them lessened. Ever!"
Eight days later, I was opening Wednesday night Kid's Club at church. Here in front of me were maybe twenty kids, ages six to ten. As I looked at them it occurred to me that those same men who had flown those planes and the spawn of their pig dog god could easily walk into this classroom, slit the throat of every single child, watch them as they tried to scream as they bled out, and walk away thinking they had done good.
Never forget who the enemy is. He wants you dead. He wants your neighbor dead. Your wife, husband, children,parents dead. He does not and will not discriminate. There are no negotiations, no compromises. There are no innocents. Not a one. And you will not be spared or shown any mercy.
And be grateful to those who stand watch. President Bush said that this is a very long war. The enemy has no real return address. I remember a thought from Victor Davis Hanson who said that if he had fallen asleep on 9-11-01 and did a brief Rip van Winkle and awakened on 9-11-03 and been told that Afghanistan was liberated, Saddam Hussein had been deposed and that over 50,000,000 people were free and voting and that America had not been attacked again by Islamic radicals,well, he would have found that hard to believe. And it's now been five years. And the war is fought off the front pages. It's fought in cyberspace. It's fought by a boat squad or platoon of SEAL's who go in and leave nothing but footprints, or by Force Recon, or Mossad. Quietly and effectively. Unless the New York Times gets hold of it and destroys that piece of strategy.
So, go and remember. Go and hug your kids. Call a friend. Read the Declaration of Independence. And thank God that He is sovereign.
And remember a rephrased quote from "Apollo 13": "This is our darkest hour." "No, I believe this will be our finest hour!"
And one last thought-Dave Barry is great humorist. On the first anniversary of 9-11, he got real serious and wrote one of the most poignant pieces I've ever read. It talks about United Flight 93. It's an excellent read.
Father God, hear our plea. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank You for those who stand a watch and walk the walls and risk all to keep us from harm. Remember them so kindly Father.We ask that You do not treat us as we so richly deserve. We have forgotten You. We have broken each and every one of Your laws. We chase after other gods. Bring us back to You. For Jesus sake. And in His name, the name that is above all names.