Remembering September 11th 2001

By nathan lamb

Ten years ago Sunday, President George W. Bush was visiting an elementary school when Chief of Staff Andy Card whispered in his ear that America had been attacked.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. were struck by commercial airplanes. A fourth plane was hijacked, but thanks to the heroic actions of passengers on board, the plane was forcibly crashed in Pennsylvania before it reached its unknown target.

Tuning into both televised and radio coverage, millions of Americans watched and listened in horror as the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 unfolded. That day, 2,819 Americans lost their lives on American soil.

In the days following the  9/11 attacks, the American people learned of the bravery of police, firefighters and paramedics going into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, as well as the valor of the people inside of the buildings trying to save their fellow Americans. When the Twin Towers collapsed, many brave Americans were killed as they tried to save those trapped inside.

Soon after, President Bush addressed the nation. He informed us of whom the attackers were,  vowed to find them and bring them to justice.  Al-Qaeda, a radical Islamic terrorist organization headed by Osama Bin Laden and harbored by the Taliban in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The sorrow for those whose lives were lost, the compassion for families who have lost loved ones, the persistence of the search and rescue teams, the patriotism felt by nearly every American and the resolve of the American people and the U.S. government to bring to justice the Islamic extremists responsible for the attacks was simply astonishing.  The will of the American people was not broken and certainly not weakened.  The will of the American people grew stronger in the face of these cowardly acts of terrorism.

Sept.11, 2001 should remind us, as Ronald Reagan did during his presidency, that,“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”

America was attacked by people who not only wanted to kill Americans, but who wanted to kill freedom, liberty and democracy. America was attacked to show other freedom loving countries that if America can be attacked, so could they.

Since the war on terror began, it is crucial to remember that we are not fighting a war simply to avenge those lives lost on Sept. 11. We are fighting to protect the country from future terrorist attacks aimed at killing more Americans, weakening freedom and our derailing democratic way of life. We must remember how we felt on that day when we learned of the lives lost and the motive behind the attacks. The war on terror was brought to our doorsteps; we must stay vigilant at home and abroad, keeping in mind the values of freedom and democracy that we are fighting to protect.

The implications of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 both personal and national mustn’t be forgotten. I ask that you take a moment right now to remember where you were that moment when you first heard or saw the terrorist attacks on that day. Remember how the attacks changed your life, the lives of those around you and your view of the world.

As I think back and remember where I was and what I thought, I first am overcome with a feeling of sadness for the 2,819 American citizens murdered, who were killed simply because they were American. Then, as many other Americans, I remember being overcome with a sense of anger and disbelief, sickened that there are people in the world who would commit and celebrate such cowardly acts of brutality that slaughtered so many people.

The unfortunate reality about the world we live in today is that there are people like that – people who celebrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks and want to see another attack carried out. Thankfully for us and other freedom loving people around the world, many other attacks have been prevented. Attacks have been prevented in the U.S. by those in the intelligence community, by increased security and by the sacrifice that many of our young men and women make by joining the military. Our men and women in the armed forces and in the intelligence community should be given a lot of credit for keeping America safe over the last 10 years.

The U.S. government should be given credit as well for making the decisions necessary to put our military and our intelligence community in a position to successfully prevent another attack on our country.

We have significantly weakened al-Qaeda’s capability to carry out further attacks, we have gathered information to prevent smaller cells and individual acts of terror and most notably we allowed the intelligence community to obtain the information necessary for our special operations forces to find and kill Osama bin Laden.

Nathan Lamb is the president of the UMass Republican Club and a SGA senator. He can be reached at [email protected]dent.umass.edu.