It's been 6 years since that fateful day in 2001, in those six years we have seen a lot of changes in our country and the world. Many of those changes have been good, many have been bad, but change is an inevitable thing. One thing that has changed is that most people have gone back to their normal lives and most only think about September 11th in passing and most have forgotten the significance of the events of that day on our country, our families, and our way of life.
To those who lost family and friends on that day, it will never be just another day, to those of us in the fire service and in the military will never ever forget that fateful day. While our memories will fade, they will not forget the tragedy of that day and the loss of our brothers and sisters in uniform.
It seems to me that many people in America have forgotten the real events of that day; they have forgotten that it was a blatant and unprovoked attack on America, our people and our very way of life. Today we are no better off than we were before that day. Many people still go about their daily business with blinders on and are more concerned with the latest on Lindsay Lohan or Brittney Spears, than they are about the war on terror, the well being of their neighbor, or the events in the Middle East.
In the days following September 11th 2001 our citizens stood proud and strong, they displayed the flag, they helped each other, and they gave of themselves without expecting anything in return. They acted like our grandparents generation did. That spirit quickly subsided as most went back to being the self centered jerks that they were before 9/11. Today, you don't see many flags flying from peoples homes, you don't see much support for anything unless it's a chance to look good in front of the neighbors or co-workers, and we have people who blatantly disrespect our flag, our country and the lives of the men and women who defend it on a constant basis.
I stand up for that freedom every day that I put on my uniform and I have sworn an oath to defend everyone's right to criticize our President, to peacefully assemble in protest, and to have their voices heard. That does not mean that I have to like it, or that I can't provide my voice to the mix as well. The anti-war protests solve nothing and only serve as ammunition for our enemy to show the world how wrong we are for being involved and to reduce morale amongst the brave men and women fighting to give the very freedom we take for granted to a group of people who have known nothing but oppression for their entire lives. Yet, still the people show up and the media makes it big news. Yet each day a mother and father miss their son or daughter who is deployed or a wife misses her husband and he misses seeing his son's first steps or hearing his first word because he is once again deployed in harms way.
Our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen are accomplishing extraordinary fetes every single day in the war. They are saving lives, removing very bad people from areas where they intend to harm anyone and everyone who do not agree with them 100%, and who seek only to enslave those under them. They are providing stability and training the local people to standup and take care of themselves. Yet they are supposed to accomplish this monumental task in a couple of years with only a handful of resources and a single mistake. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq have not known freedom or self governance for their entire lives, yet those who have no experience in this sort of thing want it to happen overnight. Governing a country which has been controlled by militants and religious fanatics for the past 40 years and where these people still exist and still wish to take back the power which has been stripped away is not for the faint of heart or for the inexperienced. It's not so easy a Caveman can do it!
In America if you are elected Mayor of your city or town and you totally mess things up, maybe the town will lose some money, maybe a few people might even lose their jobs depending on the size of the city or town. In Afghanistan or Iraq if you are mayor of your particular town or village you stand a good chance of being assassinated, if you fail to control your town then militants move in, kill as many of your citizens as necessary to accomplish their goal of instilling fear into the hearts and minds of everyone else in the town, take over, and establish a base of operations where they can do the same thing to surrounding villages and where they can plan for and stage before conducing terrorist operations against anyone who disagrees with them or who they see as the enemy. To become an elected official and to implicate peaceful change in these countries is an act of faith and courage that few if any politicians in this country would be able to do.
So I ask that you take a moment on this day and reflect on what happened on this day in 2001 and ask yourself one simple question. Am I living a life that is worthy of the sacrifice that so many American's made on that day?
Please take a moment to read this letter to the NY Daily Time From Dennis Smith. Dennis is a retired FDNY Firefighter, a gifted author and the founder of Firehouse Magazine.