“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God. (Matthew 5:1-11)
We all remember. Only aging brains and senility will ever take the awful memories from us. The flames, the smoke, people walking around in a daze, and images of people jumping from the building and the Twin Towers coming down are seared into our minds and our souls. This was followed by the image of the fire fighters digging for their dead – the brave that ran up the stairs knowing that they would never return and did it anyway. They kissed their friends goodbye. Big, burly, brave men kissed and hugged and ran up the stairs into the smoke. I imagine when they stopped and the smoke cleared they realized they were in heaven.
It is so sad that the trauma did not end that day. We went to war to defend ourselves and make sure that the evil that caused the day was destroyed. Most Americans, and most of the world stood with us in our grief on 9/11 and felt we were justified in Afghanistan. Young men and women gladly sacrificed their lives for the safety of the Nation. We have lost 2271 men and women as a result of Operation Enduring Freedom. Another 12,309 have been wounded and the number rises each day.
Not satisfied, we went to Iraq and we lost 4486 brave men and women. Another 32,223 were wounded, many of whom will never fully recover. I think today most of us believe this was a mistake. Almost 37,000 men, women, and their families paid a big price because we acted too quickly and with inadequate and faulty intelligence.
I hope we learned from 9/11 and from the mistakes of Iraq. I hope we learned to make sure we are not acting because we are angry or even because we righteously want to remove evil from the world. Before we attack another country we need to remember that we lost more people in Iraq and Afghanistan than we did on 9/11.
Today I hope we remember not only the innocent victims of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but those who gave their own lives to try to save others and defend the U.S. I wish more of us demonstrated the same bravery as the firefighters who rushed up the stairs, the passengers that took the plane back, the staff that stayed in the White House knowing the risks, and all of those who have volunteered to serve in the U.S. military. I hope we take this opportunity to say we don’t want any more wars. We don’t want any more attacks on other countries that aren’t threatening us. Over 50,000 dead and wounded are enough and there still is not peace in the Middle East. Clearly war and the threat of war have never solved the problems in that region. Repeating the cycle of violence will not help.
Government policy cannot be to continually declare war. War does not solve our problems. The war on poverty left us with even more poverty. The war on drugs has left us with new and more toxic drugs. The war on terrorism has resulted in even more terrorist that hate America. All the “wars” have left us with every growing debt and private sector companies growing fat and wealthy off the suffering of others. The sacrifice of the brave and endless war cannot be the end result of the government policies we refer to as the war on terrorism. The end result must be peace and security. Surely, the way to gain peace and security is not through violence, peril, and spying on our own people. If it is then we have already lost our identity as a country.