Prev | List | Random | Next
Did I mention I lived in Louisiana for a while? Here's a story from those days. You really don't have to read the previous entries, this episode stands alone. Originally written just prior to September 11 2003, I think it fitting to repost today.
TUESDAY MORNING IN SEPTEMBER, BARKSDALE AFB, LOUISIANA
A small projector on a platform suspended from the ceiling shines images from a computer onto a large screen on a wall - the day's weather briefing; near real time data from state-of-the-art Doppler radars, high resolution geostationary satellite imagery, and output from complex computer-generated models of the atmosphere. A far cry from hand-applied ink on cardboard using 2-3 hour old data that was "high tech" just a few years before, this same information is available to in the most remote tent city in the world.
The briefing concludes and the commander addresses the room.
"You're all professionals. Today I need you all to get out there and focus on the task at hand."
A little over dramatic, I'm thinking. We're in the midst of a major exercise and the B52's are all prepped and ready to go; loaded for bear and ready to crush an imaginary foe. In this case, as with all exercises, the scenario is based on hypothetical bad guys launching an unprovoked and brutal attack against a make-believe ally of the United States. Exercises almost always begin with that premise, for it would be unrealistic to have the attack actually directed at us. Still, the script calls for us to respond in such a way that the hypothetical bad guys will suffer grave consequences for their crimes.
The boss continues, and he's really hamming it up. The look on his face is dead serious. "There's little information available right now but this we know: an aircraft has crashed into one of the towers of the world trade center."
Damn. That, I know, was not in the script.
The commander leaves as the room is called to attention, the day shift quietly exits the briefing room and crosses the hall to the operations center. There on the wall another giant screen has been given over to live news coverage, and indeed one of the towers has been transformed into what looks like the world's largest candle.
At numerous work stations around the room shift change is now ongoing, tired midshift workers start the trudge home. "Looks like you might not be sleeping much today." I remark to a friend passing by on his way to the door.
"Huh?" He says. I point to the screen. "Oh that. The TV guys say it was probably an accident."
I don't think so. What are the odds? This guy is doing a great job of convincing himself that he'll be able to sleep. I would be hoping for sleep too. At the end of a mid shift it's all you can think about. If you can think.
He leaves. The day crew is on duty and focused on the task at hand. Professional. Time for me to get to work too. I've got an office down the hall and I'm about to head for the door when the images of the second plane hitting the second tower are burned forever into my memory.
The commander is at my shoulder now. The ops floor is getting crowded. "That's a hell of a degree of realism for an exercise." Someone quips.
And we don't know it yet but the President of the United States is inbound.
AN EARLY SUMMER SATURDAY NIGHT IN AMERICA NEAR THE END OF THE SECOND MILLENNIUM
Home on leave! A strange thing happens on these rare visits; years melt away and I'm back with old friends. It's bittersweet to be sure, because the reality is that they've enjoyed a life in place with roots and lifelong friends and kids who are growing up together.
No time for that kind of thinking now though...tonight it's just the guys, the guys I used to cruise with, now in a buddy's basement, drinking at his bar. (Twenty years earlier we were in his parents basement, drinking from their bar. We've come a long way.) And we're talking about old times and where we are now. Careers, successes, failures, life, glory days...
"Now I think I'm going down to the well tonight
and I'm going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days"
--Springsteen, Glory Days
These guys knew me with a different haircut. In pre-military days yours truly was a lead guitar player in a local bar band, back when summer was endless and life was good. Rock and Roll was all that mattered; not just the music, the life.
The military is full of ex-rock stars. Show me one hundred random military guys and I'll find a full band. And they'll be good, too. Small wonder that we've even found tactical uses for rock music.
Rock and Roll. The tip of the cultural spear. It's been said the US has never fought a war against a country with a McDonalds; once you've got our culture you'll love us for sure. And Rock and Roll, flowing free through the radio waves for all the world to hear, is the first and only bit of that culture that many will ever know.
Again the guy on the road to Baghdad: Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy? If it was a question, this is my answer: "Rock and Roll."
I hardly ever see the guys from the band anymore, but sometimes back with the guys from high school someone will put a guitar in my hands and its go time, baby. But tonight something on TV catches my attention. Stops me completely.
"Hey, you still got it man" someone says but I'm preoccupied with the news. He's just being nice anyhow; the guy that plays for a hobby is nowhere near as good as the guy that played for a living.
Then someone else suggests we go check out the band playing at this place up the street. Which sounds like a good idea to me but I want to hear the news first.
"Hang on, just this one story" I say and now some others have their eyes on the TV.
"Yeah you guys are bombing them or something aren't you?"
Or something. We've been bombing Yugoslavia constantly for nearly three months. And we've been in the Balkans for years now. Not too many folks were too aware of the situation at the time, a handful of years later and even fewer remember it as more then the name of a place where something happened with the military.
At first I'm a little disappointed that the guys have little knowledge of what's going on, but maybe its better this way. No protesters, no complications... the US acts to protect the downtrodden wherever they may be, right? No favoritism, we're even defending Muslims in Europe against the Christians who would massacre them.
The US military has been deployed to more places and seen more action during the 1990's then any decade before. Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Korea... Small wonder perhaps that our most warlike president in history is not well liked amongst the troops, (Add in personal conduct that would bar him from military service or result in court martial and it quickly becomes apparent why officers were constantly reminded they were forbidden from making disparaging remarks about the commander-in-chief.)
Still, whether as a result of our success and public approval post-Gulf War or because they worship our CinC like a god, the media doesn't paint the grim picture they did pre-Gulf War for any of these myriad conflicts of the 90's. That's good, a unified America is pretty unbeatable. But perhaps it's also bad; given the rate of deployment one wonders if all these trips are necessary...
And my buds, once inseparable High School friends together and now representing several different walks of life, don't know Kosovo from Kokomo.
And if they can sleep well at night I guess that's probably a good thing.
In a few months a new millennium will begin, and if it's not the end of the world predicted by a lot of Y2K doomsayers, maybe it will be a little less busy for the boys and girls in the uniformed service.
"And now with a look at your weather..." The TV goes off. "Let's hit the road!" someone says, and we go catch a really hard working rock band, the type that lights up the night in bars all over America, and for a while all is right with the world.
Democracy Whiskey Sexy? Rock and roll, baby, rock and roll.
"...Seventeen has turned thirty-five
I'm surprised that we're still livin'
If we've done any wrong
I hope that we're forgiven
Got a few kids of my own
And some days I still don't know what to do
I hope that they're not laughin' too loud
When they hear me talkin'
Like this to you
That's when a sport was a sport
And groovin' was groovin'
And dancin' meant everything
We were young and we were improvin'
Laughin', laughin' with our friends
Holdin' hands meant somethin', baby
Outside the club"Cherry Bomb"
Our hearts were really thumpin'
Say yeah yeah yeah
Say yeah yeah yeah..."
--John Mellencamp, Cherry Bomb
TUESDAY IN SEPTEMBER
How blue was that sky on that day?
Images are beamed into the ops center; the towers are smoking like chimneys over the furnaces of Hell. Damaged but not yet fallen. No one knows and everyone suspects what's going on. Osama Bin Laden is not unknown to us; he drew first blood long before this day.
"It's the UN Summit thing" Someone says, "we refused to condemn Israel as a racist state and this is the result."
"That may be a final kicker, but there's definitely more motive behind this attack."
"Well sure, it goes back to the founding of Israel..."
"No, it goes back to the days of the Bible..."
"Well, yea, but I mean as far as modern times..."
"Hey don't forget Oklahoma. We don't know yet who did this one..."
I need a break from this scene and there are a few things I need to get done, so it's down the hall to the office. When I get there the guy I share the office with is hanging up the phone; he was talking to a buddy at the Pentagon.
"Learn anything?" I ask him.
"He hung up...he said 'I've gotta go, the whole building just shook'... and he hung up."
Down the hall again to the Ops Center. News reports are conflicted now, rumors are flying, something about a bombing at State Department headquarters... the "fog of war" is thick on this one. No surprise there.
But ten minutes later the first "unconfirmed reports" from the Pentagon are broadcast.
Damn damn damn.
Strangely enough I have a dentist appointment, made weeks before. On a military installation you do not miss a dentist appointment. And there's a distinct and new possibility that I may be away from home for a while, with no immediate access to professional modern dentistry. So with nothing else hot to do I head for the dental clinic.
And there's a TV in the waiting room. And discussion of who is doing this. And very professional attitudes to the people going about their business. Until the towers fall. And then the world changes. And everything ratchets up about ten notches.
I reschedule my appointment. Looking at the date on the new appointment slip I wonder if I'll actually be here in two weeks.
Who has done this thing? We know him.
We know him well enough that we call him by his initials. His full name is inconvenient to us, perhaps scorn and contempt make those three letters all he is worthy of.
We do not fear him. And if he never existed some other would have stood in his place. He is inevitable, the product of a culture of five thousand years of hate. He is just the latest incarnation, the current personification of a lengthening line of sheer evil.
"If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy his own heart?"
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
September 5, 1972: Eight Palestinian "Black September" terrorists seized 11 Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village in Munich, West Germany. In a bungled rescue attempt by West German authorities, nine of the hostages and five terrorists were killed.
March 2, 1973: U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Cleo A. Noel and other diplomats were assassinated at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum by members of the Black September organization.
"So long as there are men there will be wars."
-- Albert Einstein
"Only the dead have seen the last of war"
-- George Santayana
"It may be that at some time in the dim future of the race the need for war will vanish: but that time is yet ages distant. As yet no nation can hold its place in the world, or can do any work really worth doing, unless it stands ready to guard its right with an armed hand."
June 27, 1976: Members of the Baader-Meinhof Group and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine seized an Air France airliner and its 258 passengers. They forced the plane to land in Uganda,where on July 3 Israeli commandos successfully rescued the passengers.
"It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it."
--General Douglas MacArthur
"Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum."
--"Epitoma Rei Militaris" by Vegetius.
(Therefore, whoever wishes for peace, let him prepare for war.)
November 4, 1979: After President Carter agreed to admit the Shah of Iran into the U.S., Iranian radicals seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 66 American diplomats hostage. Thirteen hostages were soon released, but the remaining 53 were held until their release on January 20, 1981.
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."
--George W. Bush on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea
"I think it will take years before we can repair the damage done by that statement."
-- Jimmy Carter on George Bush's use of the phrase "Axis of Evil"
October 6, 1981: Soldiers who were secretly members of the Takfir Wal-Hajira sect attacked and killed Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a troop review.
September 14, 1982: Lebanese Prime Minister Bashir Gemayel was assassinated by a car bomb parked outside his party's Beirut headquarters.
April 18, 1983: Sixty-three people, including the CIA's Middle East director, were killed, and 120 were injured in a 400-pound suicide truck-bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.
October 23, 1983: Simultaneous suicide truck-bomb attacks were made on American and French compounds in Beirut, Lebanon. A 12,000-pound bomb destroyed the U.S. compound, killing 242 Americans, while 58 French troops were killed when a 400-pound device destroyed a French base. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.
"Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."
-- Colin Powell
March 16, 1984: The Islamic Jihad kidnapped and later murdered Political Officer William Buckley in Beirut, Lebanon. Other U.S. citizens not connected to the U.S. Government were seized over a succeeding 2-year period.
June 14, 1985: A Trans-World Airlines flight was hijacked en route to Rome from Athens by two Lebanese Hizballah terrorists and forced to fly to Beirut. The eight crew members and 145 passengers were held for 17 days, during which one American hostage, a U.S. Navy sailor, was murdered. After being flown twice to Algiers, the aircraft was returned to Beirut after Israel released 435 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.
October 7, 1985: Four Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists seized the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, taking more than 700 hostages. One U.S. passenger was murdered before the Egyptian Government offered the terrorists safe haven in return for the hostages' freedom. Years later the leader of the hijackers would be discovered in Baghdad following the liberation of Iraq.
November 23, 1985: An EgyptAir airplane bound from Athens to Malta and carrying several U.S. citizens was hijacked by the Abu Nidal Group.
March 30, 1986: A Palestinian splinter group detonated a bomb as TWA Flight 840 approached Athens Airport, killing four U.S. citizens.
"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."
-- Samuel Adams
April 5, 1986: Two U.S. soldiers were killed, and 79 American servicemen were injured in a Libyan bomb attack on a nightclub in West Berlin, Germany. In retaliation, U.S. military jets bombed targets in and around Tripoli and Benghazi.
February 17, 1988: U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. W. Higgins was kidnapped and murdered by the Iranian-backed Hizballah group while serving with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization in southern Lebanon.
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
--John Stuart Mill
"The Bush doctrine of preemptive war is wrong for America, and sets a dangerous precedent. So many who supported the war now say that they are opposed to the doctrine of preemption. Then why did they vote for this preemptive war? I opposed the President's war on Iraq, I continue to stand against his policy of preemption, and on my first day in office I will tear up the Bush doctrine and rebuild a foreign policy consistent with American values."
December 21, 1988: Pan American Airlines Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, by a bomb believed to have been placed on the aircraft in Frankfurt, West Germany, by Libyan terrorists. All 259 people on board were killed.
"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
--Patrick Henry March 23,1775
"Stop this war before it starts! Bring home our troops..." (said to chants of "Stop this war! Stop this war!")
--Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh)
January 18-19, 1991: Iraqi agents planted bombs at the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia's home residence and at the USIS library in Manila.
February 26, 1993: The World Trade Center in New York City was badly damaged when a car bomb planted by Islamic terrorists explodes in an underground garage. The bomb left six people dead and 1,000 injured. The men carrying out the attack were followers of Umar Abd al-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric who preached in the New York City area.
April 14, 1993: The Iraqi intelligence service attempted to assassinate former U.S. President George Bush during a visit to Kuwait. In retaliation, the U.S. launched a cruise missile attack 2 months later on the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
March 8, 1995: Two unidentified gunmen killed two U.S. diplomats and wounded a third in Karachi, Pakistan.
November 13, 1995: The Islamic Movement of Change planted a bomb in a Riyadh military compound that killed one U.S. citizen, several foreign national employees of the U.S. Government, and more than 40 others.
"My friends, this rush to war does not benefit the American people..."
--Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun
"It's looking more and more like a case of mass deception... There was no imminent danger, and we should never have gone to war."
--Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
June 25, 1996: A fuel truck carrying a bomb exploded outside the U.S. military's Khobar Towers housing facility in Dhahran, killing 19 U.S. military personnel and wounding 515 persons, including 240 U.S. personnel. Several groups claimed responsibility for the attack.
February 23, 1997: A Palestinian gunman opened fire on tourists at an observation deck atop the Empire State Building in New York City, killing a Danish national and wounding visitors from the United States, Argentina, Switzerland, and France before turning the gun on himself. A handwritten note carried by the gunman claimed this was a punishment attack against the "enemies of Palestine."
August 7, 1998: A bomb exploded at the rear entrance of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 U.S. citizens, 32 Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs), and 247 Kenyan citizens. About 5,000 Kenyans, six U.S. citizens, and 13 FSNs were injured. The U.S. embassy building sustained extensive structural damage. Almost simultaneously, a bomb detonated outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing seven FSNs and three Tanzanian citizens, and injuring one U.S. citizen and 76 Tanzanians. The explosion caused major structural damage to the U.S. embassy facility. The U.S. Government held Usama Bin Ladin responsible.
"Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan. And we'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start meeting with them again. They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America."
-- Bill Clinton explains to a Long Island, N.Y., business group why he turned down Sudan's offer to extradite Osama Bin Laden to America in 1996.
"The only thing needed for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing."
-- Edmund Burke
October 12, 2000: In Aden, Yemen, a small dingy carrying explosives rammed the destroyer U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others. Supporters of Usama Bin Ladin were suspected.
"The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them."
-- George W. Bush
"The architects of this wickedness will find no safe harbor in this world. We will chase our enemies to the furthest corners of this Earth. It must be war without quarter, pursuit without rest, victory without qualification."
-- Rep. Tom Delay (R-Tx)
"I say to our enemies: We are coming. God may have mercy on you, but we won't."
-- Sen. John Mccain (R-Az)
?I am saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we?re now forced to war?
--Tom Daschle (D-SD)
"I have absolutely no regret about my vote on this war. The cost in human lives. The cost to our budget, probably $100 billion. We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less."
--Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca)
"I think there has been an exaggeration. They are misleading all Americans in a profound way."
--Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
"Today's Western society has revealed the inequality between the freedom for good deeds and the freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; thousands of hasty (and irresponsible) critics cling to him at all times; he is constantly rebuffed by parliament and the press. He has to prove his every step is well founded and absolutely flawless. Indeed, an outstanding, truly great person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind does not get any chance to assert himself; dozens of traps will be set for him from the beginning. Thus mediocrity triumphs under the guise of democratic restraints."
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"What we need now is not just regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need regime change in the United States...I don't think [world leaders] are going to trust this president, no matter what. I believe it deeply, that it will take a new president of the United States, declaring a new day for our relationship with the world, to clear the air and turn a new page on American history."
--Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
September 11, 2001: Two hijacked airliners crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Soon thereafter, the Pentagon was struck by a third hijacked plane. A fourth hijacked plane, suspected to be bound for a high-profile target in Washington, crashed into a field in southern Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 U.S. citizens and other nationals were killed as a result of these acts.
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty."
--John F. Kennedy
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
"In war there is no prize for the runner-up."
-- General Omar Bradley
"These terrorists...we have seen their kind before. They're the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."
-- George W. Bush
BARKSDALE AFB, LA, SEP 11, 2001
"Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended. I want to reassure the American people that the full resources of the federal government are working to assist local authorities to save lives and help the victims of these attacks. Make no mistake, the U.S. will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts. I've been in regular contact with the vice president, secretary of defense, national security team, and my cabinet. We have taken all security precautions to protect the American people. Our military here and around the world is on high status. And we've taken the necessary security precautions to continue functions of your government. We've been in touch with leaders of Congress and world leaders to tell, to assure them we'll do whatever is necessary to protect Americans. I ask the American people to join me, to thank all those fighting hard to rescue victims and join me in saying a prayer to victims and families. The resolve of our nation is being tested ... but make no mistake we'll show the world, we will pass the test."
Better speeches will come later.
The man beside me as these words are spoken is scheduled to retire. His household goods already picked up and shipped, his new life all but begun. Now all of that is uncertain, but in the end his 26 years of service will be sufficient, by virtue of that shipment of household goods he will be allowed to retire while others not so far along in the process will have to wait a few extra months for more settled times.
Still, I think, it was a tough decision for him. But an honor for me as a few weeks later I will get to narrate the ceremony, an emotional conclusion to a distinguished career spanning the better part of three decades. His wife and daughter in the crowd with a room full of other guests, but one noticeable absence; his son will miss this great moment in his father's life, as he is among the first to get his boots in the sand with our new allies, the "Northern Alliance" in Afghanistan.
Family tradition is a powerful thing.
But on September 11, 2001 that future was absolutely uncertain. Then I gazed through a window in time to see a motorcade drive back towards the flightline. Vehicles bristling with mounted machine guns.
And looking down from that window I can't get this image out of my head: those who chose to jump or who fell from the flaming towers. Turning and twisting in the grip of gravity for reason they would never know. The image of that fatal dance is fixed in my memory alongside the image of celebratory dancers in the streets of a far off land; ululating cries of triumph rising from their toothless grins. A different force gripped them; twisted them into supplicant dancers, arms upraised in praise of that all-consuming force they found irresistible. A force as invisible but no less real then gravity, and for some more immutable: malevolent hate. Malevolent hatred of all that we who value civilization hold dear.
I have words for you dancers; listen. I do not return your hate. I do not feel your fear. I feel tethered rage, and a cold and certain focus. You are nothing to me.
I hear a fife and drum. Shall we dance?
Here then, is America on the cusp of the millennia; star-spangled glory and the hope for the free world. Battered and bleeding, cut and scarred, a nation still rising from a barbarous past and now forced to deal imperfectly but as best and completely as we can with barbarism many thought long gone from the world. The time for denial ended as aircraft ripped the sky above New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania...
Our perhaps misguided faith in fellow man renders us attractive to friend and vulnerable to foe. Our fantastic success as a nation, summed up for some perhaps by the concept of Democracy Whiskey Sexy, is seen as absolute failure by others. Our ability to worship as we choose is an intolerable evil for many.
And in spite of those who would deny, who would cling to a world that ended that day, and those misguided and vocal few who would oppose us from within, we are indeed willing to fight to preserve those many things, those blessings of liberty, for ourselves and our posterity.
We appear to be ready to attempt to turn the tide that has seemed so inevitable over the past couple of decades.
Now even the most intensely hate-blinded adherents to the religion of peace must come to grips with the fact that their actions have ended forever our indifferent attitude to their lives. They have gained our full attention. We are now quite obviously a force to be reckoned with in their world, a role forced upon us and a mantle worn uneasily.
That this may cause some discomfort for people on both sides of the aisle in this country is certain, and healthy, and another sign of our fundamental goodness. We will not establish an empire. George Bush is not Caesar. The American people are not the Germans of 1937.
Pax Americana? We are Rome and not Rome. We are right and wrong, we are the best and the brightest and the worst of the world today. We are not half measures. We are frequently extreme, and here voices of temperance are often shouted down.
We are imperfect. We are not to be underestimated.
We are the last dangerous hope for the future of mankind.
The motorcade reaches the runway. There, wingtip to wingtip, the B52 fleet sits, fueled and loaded for real, for an exercise now cancelled. Think about it. The first thing he saw when he got there and the last when he left, firepower the likes of which few can imagine, and his finger on the "trigger". The images of the fallen towers, a smoking hole in the Pentagon, and a crater in Pennsylvania fresh in everyone's mind. Shock and quiet rage prevail nationwide. Restraint? You better believe it, and thank God (and I mean it, thank God) the right man was in charge. Rush to war? Not then, not now, not ever.
And later that night I would get home and hug the wife and kids and be thankful that I could.
And beg forgiveness from my God for that which I might have to do.
For it is not in His name.
Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy?
une jam kosovar
This is an incredible post. It has inspired one of my own. My life as a survivor is now one in which I make sure to continue looking for inspiration, for not to do so means that I settle into the memories and grief of yesterday without moving forward.
Thank you for this post and for continuing to work at keeping me and my fellow countrymen safe and free from fear.
Greyhawk, You are an incredibly gifted writer. You come back to us. And you WRITE!!! You hear me??? I mean it!!
Greyhawk, when you first posted this, it was the first of your writings I had read. Then, I went into your archieves, then, I bookmarked it, kept checking for the new ones in the series, printed out the series, and became a dedicated fan.
With no personal folks in the military (my marine died almost 14 years ago), I've adopted you and most of your milbloggers to follow through this war.
Just know, when the going gets rough over there, a little ole lady, deep in the heart of Texas is willing you on.
Godspeed -- stay close.Posted by Sherry at September 11, 2004 09:30 PM
Please let your buddies know how proud I amof you all and the job you are doing.Posted by Pat in NC at September 11, 2004 09:51 PM
You've outdone yourself, and that ain't easy.
Be safe, sir, and come back.Posted by Bill Faith at September 12, 2004 05:08 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)