09.12.2014 0

Finish the job

911memorial-2By Rick Manning

9/11 will be remembered by most Americans through the horrifying images of planes crashing into the Twin Tower and the collapse of the buildings.  Even though, I live in Washington, D.C., that is how I remember it.  First hearing the news on my car radio while I spoke with my wife on the phone, and then seeing the second plane wipe away any doubt that our nation was under attack.

Yesterday, I gained a whole new perspective by visiting the Pentagon 9/11 memorial, which powerfully reminds of the wasted lives and lost potential due to the acts of five followers of international jihad who commandeered a passenger plane and flew it into the side of the building.

53 innocent passengers and six crew members boarded an American Airlines flight out of Dulles Airport that morning, unaware that five others on board planned suicide by plane.  At 9:37 am, the east side of the Pentagon was in flames and those 59 were dead, along with 125 military and civilian personnel who were working at their desks that morning.

These terror victims are remembered individually and collectively just outside the location on the Pentagon wall where they were murdered.  The memorial does not make political statements, but it does evoke a sense of resolve.

911memorial-4With 184 benches that arise from the ground, 59 pointed toward the building and 125 pointed away, the Memorial permanently recognizes those whose lives were sacrificed.  Each bench has a still pool of water below it providing a sense of peace in the midst of horror.  At night, the glow from the unders
tated lighting of each bench casts a haunting reminder of the enormity of the loss, as a mourner looks across an expanse of seemingly randomly placed glowing granite.

A visit to the Memorial reminds that those who hate everything that America stands for will stop at nothing to harm us.

Yet, thirteen years later, we are war weary.  Many believe that we can put our heads in the sand while the philosophical cousins of the Islamist thugs who killed 2,977 Americans on that fateful day are stronger than ever decapitating Christians, other Muslims, agnostics and atheists.  Killing reporters, clergy, children and anyone in their path, this latest iteration of the self-proclaimed religion of peace rampages through the very land that American blood was spilled to liberate from tyranny.

As I walked amongst the benches, leaning down to look at the names of some who died, while just quietly contemplating the emotions of those who were on board the doomed flight, the words inscribed on the Memorial haunted me, “To honor the 184 people whose lives were lost, their families, and all who sacrifice that we may live in freedom.  We will never forget.”

911memorial-1Has America forgotten?  Have we become so weary of fighting evil that it just seems too hard to remain vigilant?  Will these lives be lost in vain as America replaces its resolve with an easy acquiescence to those who still to this day celebrate 9/11 as a great victory?

Our nation faces threats throughout the world.  Some like Russia are old and familiar, emboldened by a weak President who believes that American strength is the international antagonist that brings so many challenges.  Others are rising, a China who believes that the 21st Century is theirs for the taking, and is building a modern military to seize it.

These are rational threats that can be measured and tempered through rebuilding our military might and resolve.  But the Islamist threat is something altogether different.  Fanatical in its nature, its danger does not lie in aircraft, tanks and guns, but instead in a willingness of its followers to live amongst us, and set off a bomb at the Boston Marathon killing and wounding their neighbors.  It is this threat that must be stomped out showing the same mercy that those five terrorist showed the 59 on board that doomed American Airlines flight to Los Angeles.

As Congress and the President decide how to eradicate this threat, it might do each of them good to spend an evening at the Pentagon Memorial.  A simple, elegant reminder that this enemy doesn’t care how many innocents they kill in the name of their international jihad.

911memorial-3The events of the past few months prove that wishful thinking that groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS can be reasoned with only emboldens them.  It is now time for America to reassert ourselves
in a way that makes it clear that this nation will never forget that evil cannot be negotiated with, it can only be eradicated.

Failure to take decisive action now only ensures that we will be building future memorials to other innocents who have fallen at the hands of these madmen and women, and that would demean the sacrifice of those commemorated at the Pentagon, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and in New York City.

It is time to finish the job.

Rick Manning is the Vice President of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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