Decade of Security

The 10 years since the tragedy of the Sept. 11 attacks seem to have swept by like the winds rushing down the Oklahoma plains. Do you remember where you were that day?

There are a couple of events in my life that I remember as clearly as though they were yesterday. I was late for work on Sept. 11, 2001, thanks to the traffic in downtown Dallas. I was driving my red Mitsubishi Eclipse, thinking that my clutch would eventually burn out with all the downshifting I was doing. I was listening to the news sparingly, not quite comprehending what was being said.

All the talk about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center reminded me of an event nearly 48 years before.

I was 8 years old, at recess during the noon hour. I was playing basketball with classmates when I saw the older girls in the school crying as they walked down the sidewalk from the home economics cottage. I didn’t really pay attention because I was throwing the basketball back into play, and I figured that girls always cried anyway.

Soon enough, all the students were called back into classes, then released for the day. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas—which was then a faraway locale to me, a proud Wyomingite.

None of this really made any sense to an 8-yearold. Kennedy seemed like a nice man, and, after all, he had recently visited the University of Wyoming, so there must have been something extraordinary about him. I know my sisters thought he was okay. Many years later, the terrorist actions on Sept. 11 also didn’t seem to make any sense. If the bombing of the twin towers was supposed to frighten Americans, it didn’t work. We became only more galvanized as a freedom-loving people.

Because of the cowardly actions of Sept. 11, Americans, for the most part, have come to understand the role that security now plays in their lives. Security has become a vital part of freedom. But by the same token, security has diminished some of the freedoms we generally took for granted.

Now is not the time to loosen the security that binds us as a nation.

When Navy SEALs were successful in killing Osama bin Laden, they also found a cache of intelligence that broadened our understanding of al Qaeda, its terror network and the exploits it was planning.

Apparently, plans for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks included an assault on U.S. railways. Some of that evidence was found in bin Ladin’s Pakistani hideout, though none of the intelligence yielded information about an immediate threat. Homeland Security officials have said that bin Ladin continued to plot about targets, and he communicated his ideas to other senior al Qaeda leaders. Though he no longer plays the planning and inspirational role he once did for the al Qaeda faithful, terror attacks are still likely.

Since the bin Ladin compound was raided, more officers have been dispatched to airports and at the borders. Although there are no national threat alerts, security forces remain at a heightened state.

There are many events planned this month to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks. Unfortunately, the warship New York will not be in port for the ceremonies, which has plenty of people upset. They should keep in mind, though, that she is a Navy vessel that has a wartime mission to fulfill and is busy ensuring the world is a safer and more secure place.

You might recall that the New York was built with 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in its bow. Five days before it was commissioned on Manhattan’s West Side on Nov. 7, 2009, it stopped across from Ground Zero, dipped its flag and delivered a 21- gun salute. Members of FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority Police and families of Sept. 11 victims and veterans stood and saluted in return.

New Yorkers plan to inaugurate the 9/11 memorial, symbolizing hope and renewal, this Sept. 11. Part of the memorial will consist of two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, both within the shadows of what were the twin towers.

Also included is a museum designed as a sequential historical narrative of experiences. It will honor the nearly 3,000 victims of the attack and celebrate those who risked their lives to save others. Built on the foundations of the original World Trade Center towers, the museum includes exhibition space that narrates the events of Sept. 11, 2001, through artifacts, oral histories and multimedia displays.

No matter where you are on Sept. 11 this year, pause and offer your thoughts and prayers to those innocent victims who perished 10 years ago; remember their families, that they might have continued peace and comfort. As Americans, we should always remember those who willingly put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf. We are the benefactors of a volunteer military that stands between the freedoms we love and cherish and the suicide mentality that terrorists harbor.

From sea to shining sea, America is the beautiful land we love. Putting our pride aside, we should humbly acknowledge that our liberty and security come from One higher in power, One dedicated to the freedom of men and women worldwide.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Security Today.

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