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September 11, 2005
Remembering 9/11

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Last year I wrote my remembrance of my personal 9/11 story, one I think that duplicates what most people experienced on that day. On the fourth anniversary of the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War, I think I'd like to focus on the post-9/11 experience -- how it changed me and how it continues to do so.

Prior to 9/11, politics played a small role in my life. While I followed the news and had my opinions, I rarely involved myself in political issues. In younger days, I eventually learned that politics quickly transformed into a kind of bloodsport that didn't have any appeal to me. I preferred quiet conversation, and that required me to remain silent even when others around me openly expressed their own opinions. Oddly enough for those who read CQ, I became a closet conservative. Only the 2000 election debacle pushed me to argue politics with my friends, and only for a short time.

On September 11th, 2001, watching the collapse of the Twin Towers and knowing full well what kind of terrorists executed these attacks -- anyone following the Khobar Towers/African embassies/USS Cole thread knew it -- I grew more and more angry ... with myself. I had allowed myself to become impotent; I had silenced my own voice. I had long believed that our track record of compromise and retreat in the face of terrorist attacks in Teheran, Lebanon, the Beirut kidnapping sprees, and our shameful pullout of Somalia had only encouraged enemies to consider us weak and vacillating and therefore easy to defeat.

One of the first actions I took was to create a flyer for my office with a photo of Manhattan, Statue of Liberty in the foreground, and smoke rising from Ground Zero prominently displayed. Underneath, I wrote REMEMBER SEPTEMBER 11! and posted it up on my office wall at work -- where it remains to this day. I also printed out an American flag on paper and taped it next to this reminder. Looking back, it seems silly, but I wanted to make sure that I remembered this attack every day I came to the office.

At the time, I had begun to study Catholic apologetics and the Irish language and had joined Delphi forums that debated these points. That's where I discovered that the so-called outpouring of global sympathy in the wake of these attacks was a myth. Users from around the world took great delight in castigating the United States for its arrogance and foreign policy, especially for its support of Israel, as the cause of these attacks and scolded the Americans in these forums for creating the environment that led to the murder of our civilians. (Not surprisingly, my Irish-language forums were the worst.) I'm not talking about a month later; I mean that very night. Scores of posts went up on these boards, mainly from European contributors, taking delight in the schadenfreude of the moment. Wan responses about the lack of civility evoked nothing but derision.

I decided that night that I would fight back. I was too old to join the service, but I could start by finding my voice and putting it to use. Eventually I found blogging, two years after the attacks, and decided that this gave me the most effective voice in a national debate. Thanks to CQ readers, it has proven very successful in that regard.

When I sometimes wonder whether I can have any impact, whether what I do matters at all, I try to remember how I felt after the planes hit their targets -- and especially after hearing how Flight 93 missed theirs because a handful of Americans did whatever they could to thwart the enemies of freedom and liberty. That taught us all a lesson, I believe. Sometimes whether an individual effort succeeds or fails isn't really the point. It's that the effort can inspire others to act -- and once we all act in defense of freedom, America cannot be beaten in the long run.

Feel free to add your 9/11 remembrances in the comments section. Visit Michelle Malkin for an excellent roundup of links, and Lori at PoliPundit as well.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 11, 2005 11:32 PM

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