Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’

Remembering 9/11

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Six months after September 11, 2001, I wrote a column for the Madison County Journal recalling the attack.  It did me well to read it again on this eve of the 9th Anniversary.

Time has passed since the 9-11 Attack, but I still remember vividly the events of that morning and the days following.

I remember sitting on my couch watching the World Trade Center towers burn and watching the second plane strike over and over.  Like a perverted bayou, the fire and smoke and dust engulfed Manhattan in a bog of agony.

I remember watching the first tower collapse like an avalanche roaring down a mountain and burying hundreds of rescue workers.

I remember watching a fireman interviewed by a journalist.  He had taken off his helmet to breathe before going back into the fire zone.  The journalist asked him a few questions, but he cut them short saying he had to go back to work.  The journalist asked if he was scared the second tower might collapse as well.  He said he was scared, and he wasn’t a hero, he was just doing his job, and he had friends in the rumble that needed his help.  He went back in.

I remember a few minutes later, the second tower collapsed.

I remember the Pentagon on fire.  I remember the White House and Capitol evacuated.  I remember jets on combat patrol in the skies over Washington DC.

I remember the victims, covered in debris, bleeding and burned: casualties of the largest terrorist attack in the history of the world; victims of Al Qaeda’s twisted political agenda.

I remember Lady Liberty standing in a cloud of destruction.

I remember when the Mayor of New York became Mayor of America.  I remember when the gruff Rudy Giuliani became a face of compassion.  I remember how he took to the streets, into the heart of the devastation, and brought with him leadership and determination and hope.

I remember when all air traffic was grounded and there was silence in the sky.  I remember a few days later hearing a plane in the sky and knowing we would prevail.  I remember National Guardsmen at the airports.

I remember firemen raising the Flag from a sea of rubble.  I remember that Flag at the World Series.  I remember that Flag at the Olympic Games.

I remember the fire burned for months.  Round-the-clock rescue and clean up crews kept constant streams of water pouring onto the smoking rubble.  I remember the scar cut into the New York skyline.

I remember the Star Spangled Banner played during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.  I remember sympathy from the streets of Paris, prayers from temples in Cambodia, tributes from Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, condolences from nations around the world.  I remember that citizens from 80 other countries died with our own citizens.

I remember the memorial service at the National Cathedral.  I remember tears and confusion.  I remember acceptance and healing.  I remember grief and anger.

I remember, “Let’s roll.”

I remember boots down on the ground in Afghanistan.  I remember routing the Taliban.  I remember Mike Spann.

I remember feeding the children of Afghanistan.  I remember citizens of that nation dancing in the streets as liberty came to town: just as they had in East Germany with the collapse of communism; just as they had in France with the collapse of Nazism.

I remember when President George W. Bush addressed the Joint Session of Congress on September 20.  He presented to our friends, our enemies, and all the world America’s position in the coming war.  The Bush Doctrine said, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”  I remember the bipartisan applause.

I remember Republicans and Democrats united against our enemies.  I remember Senators singing “God Bless America.”  I remember uninterrupted government during a crisis.  I remember the Flag at half-mast.

I remember that Bush remembers.  “I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it.  I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.”

I remember special afternoon editions of newspapers nationwide.  I remember prayers at special Tuesday night church services.  I remember phone calls and e-mails as friends and family connected with each other.

I don’t remember Monday, September 10.

But I will always remember that Tuesday morning.  I don’t think any of us will ever forget. 

RR: Bush legacies and Obama opportunities

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

When I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and again in 2004, my top priority was the federal judiciary. I trusted him to make solid appointments; he did.  Two of the great legacies of Bush will be Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts and Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito.  His legacy will also be examined through the war on terror and war in Iraq. The war fatigue, coupled with an economy in recession, gave Barack Obama a great electoral opportunity, which might allow him to moderate Bush’s judicial legacy with his own appointments.  I write more about all this in this week’s Reasonably Right column. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Al Qaeda or their terrorist affiliates plotted operations against U.S. homeland targets, but American law enforcement and intelligence agencies thwarted them. A backgrounder by James Jay Carafano prepared for the Heritage Foundationlast year lists a few of the successes: Jose Padilla’s “dirty bomb” plan; the Lackawanna Six, a terrorist cell in Buffalo, New York; a scheme to collapse the Brooklyn Bridge; the Virginia Jihad Network; a plot to attack the New York Stock Exchange and other financial targets in New York, New Jersey, and Washington DC; a conspiracy to bomb a subway station near Madison Square Garden while hosting the Republican National Convention in 2004; an assassination plan against a Pakistani diplomat in New York City using a shoulder-fired grenade launcher; a plot to attack national guard facilities, synagogues and other sites in Los Angeles; targeted natural gas pipelines and oil refineries; an attempt to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago; a scheme to explode 10 commercial airliners headed to New York, Washington DC and California; a planned attack on Fort Dix in New Jersey; and more that we know about, as well as others undisclosed by the government.

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, both the Bush administration and Al Qaeda recognized that country as the central battleground in the war on terror. More than 4,200 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, more than 60 with significant Mississippi ties.

And here are a few notes on Obama’s judicial opportunities.

Bush appointed and the Senate confirmed 61 appeals court justices, fewer than President Bill Clinton’s 65. Fifteen current Bush nominees will not be confirmed, those vacancies to be filled by President Obama who will make significant shifts in the judiciary during his tenure.

A report by Pamela MacLean in the National Law Journal suggests Obama’s appointments could turn seven of the 13 circuit courts into Democrat majority appointed benches, joining the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which currently has that unique distinction. Mississippi is in the 5th Circuit, which is not expected to shift from its conservative leanings within four years. Congress may create an additional 14 new federal judgeships, which would provide Obama an opportunity to even further shape the judiciary.

On the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens will be nearly 89 at the swearing-in of his fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama. Stevens is two years from being the oldest justice and four years from being the longest serving justice in Supreme Court history. He, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 75, and David Souter, 69, all hail from the Court’s liberal wing and are most mentioned as possible retirees.

You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal online: Perry/Bush legacies, Obama opportunities

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