Remembering Patriot Day 21 years later

Source: Hot Air

With everything else going on in the world today, it might have been easy to lose sight of Patriot Day, our remembrance of the horrors we witnessed on September 11, 2001. While some of the ceremonies may be more muted than normal, neither the White House nor the media are overlooking it entirely, thankfully. Google went to the trouble of putting a tiny American flag with a black ribbon over it on their main search page. To their credit, the Associated Press ran a lengthy summary of the planned activities and official pronouncements. President Joe Biden will lay a wreath at the Pentagon today, while Jill Biden visits the crash site in Pennsylvania. First responders in cities around the country are doing their annual uniformed stair climbing events in remembrance of their fallen colleagues. At a time in our nation’s history where there is so much political and social divisiveness, there is at least this one thing that most (though not all) of us can come together for.

Americans are remembering 9/11 with moments of silence, readings of victims’ names, volunteer work and other tributes 21 years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

Victims’ relatives and dignitaries will convene Sunday at the places where hijacked jets crashed on Sept. 11, 2001 — the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Today’s events will hopefully be a bit smoother than last year. Patriot Day 2021 took place while we were still in the midst of America’s disastrous, chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the site of America’s longest war, launched in response to the attacks we commemorate today. Some wounds clearly continue to generate fresh scars even decades later. But that doesn’t mean we should forget what happened in the wake of the worst terror attack ever to take place on American soil.

On September 12, we were a nation on its knees in prayer, but also one that was read ready to rise to its feet, fists in the air, screaming for vengeance. George W. Bush famously stood on that Rubble pile in New York City and said, in part, “… the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

The world was with us, with the leaders of nearly every nation scrambling to declare that everyone on the planet was an American that day. Even the nations who would go on to become our fiercest adversaries would not utter a peep in support of a group of stateless monsters wreaking destruction in the name of a hateful and warped version of a religion. While it seems hard to believe in the midst of our current circumstances, Vladimir Putin issued a lengthy statement that week declaring the Russian Federation’s determination to provide a laundry list of various types of aid in the effort to stamp out the Islamic terrorists who had perpetrated that atrocity. (In retrospect, he was almost certainly thinking, ‘let’s see how that works out for YOU,’ after the Soviet Union’s own disastrous withdrawal in 1989.)

Sadly, it’s impossible to ignore how much things have changed in the 21 years that followed. We would go on to eventually capture and kill Osama bin Laden, the perceived kingpin behind the attacks that set all of this in motion. But the price we paid to dump his body unceremoniously into the sea more than a decade later was horrific. Some of the more powerful nations who stood behind us after the attacks – or at least claimed to – now stand in open opposition to America with threats of open warfare making the rounds. Other countries that we traditionally looked upon as allies have, at a minimum, grown more tepid in their support and wary of our commitments to them. In the global theater of ideas, we are clearly not “all Americans” in 2022.

In the end, none of this was avoidable. We didn’t ask for the war in Afghanistan any more than we invited the attacks on 9-11. If we had failed to respond, our time as the world’s preeminent superpower would have ended prematurely and our dead would have gone unavenged. I’m sure the subsequent war on terror could have been prosecuted in a more intelligent fashion, but hindsight is always 20-20. All we have left are our memories and the lessons we hope to pass on to subsequent generations. I will not end this missive by mouthing the phrase “Happy Patriot Day” because there’s nothing happy about it. The world is what it is and America still has a vital role to play in determining what it will look like after another 21 years have passed. So, instead, we will close with a reminder of what may have been the most pivotal moment of George W. Bush’s presidency.

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