While some criticized President Bush for how he handled the September 11 tragedy as it was unfolding. His immediate sense of the horror of the situation, and the necessity of a strong American response was clear from the start. In his first public statement as the situation was still unfolding, he made it clear that “the full resources of the federal government” would be used to “conduct a full scale investigation and to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act.” His handling of the situation made it clear to any terrorist that “Terrorism against the United States will not stand.”
Now eleven years later we awake to find that the American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other embassy staff were killed in an attack on the eleventh anniversary of September 11. This was a courageous man who died trying to evacuate staff from an endangered consulate. He died showing the kind of heroism that moved our hearts during the tragedy of that dark day. These men were killed by violent muslims who were protesting with gun shots and rocket-propelled grenades the fact that someone made a movie which the believed ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad.
Instead of any form of outrage, or commitment to making sure justice happened, President Obama issued one of his regular meaningless “strong condemnations. While he say he directed an increase of embassy security, he has yet to direct any response to the attacks. He also has the gall to remind us that the “United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” While we should not condemn every Muslim, those who perpetrate horrible acts of violence in the name of a religion must be condemned for what they do in the name of that religion.
Mr. President we are outraged. An ambassador has died serving this nation, something which has always been interpreted as an act of war, and no justice will be sought? Do you want this man to die in vain? If not, when willl you do more than talk? We have seen how effective strong condemnations have been against Iran and their militaristic nuclear ambitions, or against Palestine in stopping their attacks on Israel. Muslims laugh at your “strong condemnations” because they are meaningless and display America’s weakness. Teddy Roosevelt believed in a foreign policy where leaders “Walk softly, but carry a big stick.” You in stead walk loudly, yet promise the world we will not use our sticks.
In condemning your response, Mitt Romney showed that he understands foreign policy better than your four years in office have taught you. We should be outraged by such a senseless attack. You should be shocked by your own weakness and refusal to respond.
While President Bush committed many mistakes, his great strength was the resolute and decisive way with which he dealt with terrorism. While he was in office, terrorists new the president was their enemy. With President Obama and his meaningless “strong condemnations” the world knows we will not stand up to terror. This is the contrast in leadership which the 11th anniversary of September 11 has shown us.
I remarked to a couple friends that today marks one of the first anniversaries of September 11 on which many of the current college freshmen would barely remember the events of that tragic day. In previous years, 2009 and 2010, I have put together tributes based on some of the videos, speeches, and songs related to that day. I wanted to take this moment to recall some of the memories of a young 11 year old from that day. We began watching the news not long after the second plane hit the tower when my grandmother called to tell us what happened.
The scariest moment of the day was when the camera panned to the smoke at the pentagon. My heart sank, and there was this fear, “Where will they hit next?” The thing that confused me the most throughout the day was how America could let people grow so strong that they could launch such a devastating attack. As a young child I was astounded by how quickly the commentators could identify that the attacks had to coordinated by Osama Bin Lade and Al Qaeda. Why a superpower like America would let people in the middle of nowhere grow and organize till they could launch such a sophisticated attack made no sense at all. One of the happiest moments was knowing my uncle and the many other friends we knew from New Jersey were all safe. My uncle came into the second tower on the train shortly after the first tower was hit, and was immediately rushed outside. I remember as well playing soccer that night. Al Bedrosian was the head of our homeschool soccer league. He decided we wouldn’t let the terrorists keep us from playing. We played, and then we went back to being glued to our tv.
I remember countless stories of heroism by ordinary people. I remember a nation who was no longer red and blue, but united as President Bush and Mayor Giuliani courageously lead us. We were a nation brought together by suffering. The bitter partisanship of Bush v. Gore was driven away. Americans had been attacked, and we would do whatever we could to support the victims, and avenge the dead.
I remember how baseball united us. When baseball returned, especially to New York City, normalcy and healing began. While the attacks were not enough to bring the nation to rout for the New York Yankees in the World Series, a couple less people referred to them as the Evil Empire that year. With the delay of baseball that year, Derek Jeter became known as Mr. November, and President Bush’s World Series opening pitch in New York City inspired a nation.
I remember the red American flag t-shirt with a bald eagle on it that I bought days before and how I treasured it for years. I remember tracking every movement of our military operations in the newspaper and the radio. I could tell you what happened at every one of the early military encounters at the time. We were a different nation after that day. The crash of the planes brought the nation face to face with the brutal face of terrorism. For a young boy growing up this shaped how I viewed the world. It woke me up from my naivete and showed me that there was evil in the world, and that we must stand up to it.
What do you remember? How has it affected you? Will you join me in making sure that those everyone remembers what happened on that day?