Perhaps it’s good that Sept. 11, 2001, continues to evoke emotions of sadness, anger and a sickness in our stomachs.
We are not forgetting. Those who witnessed it never will.
That day will always be vivid. Just as Pearl Harbor is and was for the Greatest Generation. Indeed, while searching files in recent weeks, perhaps it was coincidence we came upon that week’s edition, yellowing with age, of the Longboat Observer. It’s as if it were today: We were in the final stages that morning of putting the paper to bed when the tragedy began to unfold. Although we are 1,200 miles away from the World Trade Center, that President George W. Bush was in our city that day brought the tragedy to our doorsteps.
It was even more real.
This year’s 9/11 anniversary rekindles more than the loss of 2,977 innocent lives. It brings even more anger and frustration: Four more Americans were added to the 9/11 death count, the victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack.
And here we are, still one year later, and the American people have yet to hear the truth about the lapses in leadership and judgment that allowed that attack and those four deaths to occur.
Here it is one year later, and the families of the four victims and the American people have yet to hear President Obama or Secretary Hillary Clinton — or anyone, for that matter — own up and take responsibility.
Neither has lived by the code of ethics required of leaders: accept responsibility.
Neither has had the courage to face Americans and explain truthfully how and who made the conscious decision to lie to the American people that a video ignited the attack. Neither has faced the families or Americans to explain who made the decisions not to respond to Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ requests for more security prior to the attacks. And neither has faced Americans to explain who ultimately made the call not to attempt to reinforce and rescue the Americans under siege.
Sure, there are many Americans who believe the answers to these questions are just part of the foolish, partisan, political machniations of Washington. But here’s what those people should ask themselves:
What if Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods or Glen Doherty were your son or husband? You would want to know the truth. Each of them sacrificed his life for his country; these four heroes deserve to have the truth be told. Their families deserve it. The American people deserve it.
“What does it matter now anyway?” snapped an indignant Hillary Clinton at a congressional hearing. Here’s why it matters. Charles Woods, father of Ty Woods, said it succinctly last October in an interview with news anchor Megyn Kelly:
“This has to do with honor, integrity and justice.”
Honor. Integrity. Justice.
Inviolable American values.
Read what Woods said of his son. And compare it to the actions of those whom Woods’ served at the highest levels of our government.
“My son was an American hero,” Woods told Kelly. “And he had the moral strength to do what was right, even if that would professionally cost him his job, even if it would potentially cost him his life.”
The moral strength. Morality above self.
“He was a hero who was willing to do whatever was necessary to respond to their cries for help. If, in fact, those people from the White House were as courageous and had the moral strength that my son, Ty, had, immediately, within minutes of when they found there was the first attack, they would have sent, they would have given permission, not denied permission for those C130s to have gone up there … ”
… Do whatever was necessary to respond to their cries for help.
“I’m an attorney. This may not be the legal test of murder, but to me … those people who made the decision [not to send rescue forces] and who knew about this decision and lied about it are murderers of my son.
“That is a very strong statement for me to make, but for their benefit, they need to clear their conscience.
They need to stand up, and they need to change the direction of their lives. I want to say right now, you know who you are. I totally forgive you, but I hope years from now, you change the direction of your life.”
From the rubble of Sept. 11, 2001, we have lived for 12 years knowing Islamic extremists want to eliminate us and our way of life. Yes, we go complacent now and then, but we know from every day’s news they are not going away and that we need a strong, proactive defense — the warriors in our military and first responders who volunteer to protect and defend us.
What we’ve also learned, in the tragic aftermath of Sept. 11, 2012, for our nation to survive and defeat terrorism, we need leaders who are the epitome of honor, integrity and justice.
JUSTICE REMAINS UNSERVED AND STILL NO ONE HAS BEEN HELD ACCOUNTABLE
The following Americans were killed in the terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya:
• Chris Stevens, 52, the U.S. ambassador in Libya. His father described him as “not willing to be the kind of diplomat who would strut around in fortified compounds. He amazed and impressed the Libyans by walking the streets with the lightest of escorts, sitting in sidewalk cafes, chatting with passersby. There was a risk to being accessible. He knew it, and he accepted it.”
• Sean Smith, 34, U.S. Air Force veteran who rose to staff sergeant; he joined the state department in 2003 and was an information management officer in Benghazi.
• Ty Woods, 41, a Navy Seal for more than 20 years and Bronze Star recipient; since 2010 he protected American diplomatic personnel in dangerous posts from Central America to the Middle East.
• Glen Doherty, 42, a Navy Seal in Iraq and Afghanistan; one of his missions was responding to the bombing of the USS Cole. He was working for a private-security company hired by the State Department to guard the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
DEDICATED TO ONE MISSION: ‘AMERICA WILL NEVER FALL AGAIN’
Editor’s note: The following is this week’s weekly message from Marine Col. Matthew St. Clair, commanding officer of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Kearsarge in the Middle East.
WEEK OF SEPT. 9 — This week marks the anniversary of an important moment in history for the world, our nation and for the fine warriors at sea today with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group.
Only a small number of senior officers and staff non-commissioned officers aboard the ships stood the watch on that Tuesday morning 12 years ago, meaning that the overwhelming majority of the Marines and Sailors I’m surrounded by answered the sound of the guns and volunteered to go into harm’s way, fully knowing the battle in which they were about to enter may be their first and last.
That is both humbling and an awe-inspiring reminder of the patriotism our fine nation produces.
Sept. 11 goes beyond a terrorist attack or a massive loss of life. America was shaken to its very foundation by unspeakable acts of cowardly violence perpetrated by al-Qaeda. But, standing on the same foundation that has supported America at her toughest moments was a new generation of Americans ready to help her rise again. They have come from locations far and wide, from across this great union, and with backgrounds just as diverse.
The men and women you see today devote every second, every breath, away from family and friends to ensure one thing: that America will never fall again.
The 26th MEU holds a special place in Operation Enduring Freedom as one of the first military units to go into Afghanistan after 9/11, and that fact is not lost on the Marines and sailors aboard; it is in our legacy.
Around this time, there is talk about the “price” for freedom; tragically, I know all too well that price does not qualify the sacrifices made by men and women in defense of this country. Those precious lives fallen in the ultimate sacrifice over the last 12 years of war are so much more than that: They are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. They are loved ones.
But they did not fall on the battlefield in vain; America owes her continued existence to every single one of those war fighters and those who carry on their legacy.
On this Sept. 11, please take time to not only remember those who were lost in the attacks in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon and New York City, but also remember those who have sacrificed everything, and in turn gained the eternal gratitude of our nation.
Out here at sea, we will remember as well, and remain always faithful to them and America. Semper Fi.
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