There are few moments in history where we as a collective nation have felt the weight, pain, and heartache of loss. I dare say the United States has experienced only a few. The most recent, September 11th, 2001 will remain “America’s most tragic hour.” Other moments such as this one, the assassination of President Kennedy, The Attack at Pearl Harbor, and the explosion of the USS Maine were able to bring our nation together in such a profound manner. Yet, in nearly each of these, victory is born of tragedy. In moments such as these death faces life on the field of battle as an equal. Light is born of darkness, decay provides the nutrients for growth, and the cloth that weaves together the legacy of the Veteran and Service Member is the collective dedication to dispel the terrorist. We have and will continue to witness these dyads of light and dark, good and evil, death and life in every book, cinematic film, or personal experience of this archetype story. The beauty of the phoenix is that when it meets death face to face, it rises from the ashes.
On 9-11 terrorists waged war on the United States. Not because they stood to win, not because they wanted power, justice, or wealth. They cowardly attacked the United States because of jealousy based on a perceived idea of what is “being an American.” Like the last nation to fool hardly wage war on the American ideals, Japan, they “woke a sleeping giant.” Before World War II, the United States military ranked 19th. In 1939 horses were still being utilized as tools of the military. Not six months later, the United States dealt a decisive victory in the Pacific. A year later, it had the most powerful military on the planet. What is the relevance? When our nation is united; we are unstoppable.
The Japanese knew it in WWII, the Spanish knew it in 1898, the English learned it at our birth in 1776. Our nation, united, is unstoppable. On 9-11, the attack was aimed to do one singular thing. Instill fear. They attempted to instill fear. Attempted to turn the American people against one another. In an attempt to divide the US as a nation, they missed our core-they misjudged our people in an effort to create fear, caution, and terror. They watched our political climate; they saw the division; they saw what they believed was an opportunity. They saw the events that made us appear weak, but they did not account for our resilience; fed by our unity.
As a member of the WAE Board of Advisors and a Veteran, I was asked to share what this day means to me. While I mourn and memorialize the lives lost on this horrific day, I will remember the heroes who emerged from the shadows, I will never in my life forget the unity on September 12, 2001. Our nation, united. There is beauty in the ashes, order from chaos. There is freedom from terror. So, on the 20th anniversary of this day, let us remember who the dispeller of terror is. Let us not forget where beauty is born. Let us not forget why we stand UNITED, our Country, our Service Members, our Veterans. May we NEVER FORGET.
WAE Advisory Board Member