As our country reflects on 9/11 this week, like many others, I have spent time thinking about where I was and what I was doing when I first realized we were under attack. Eleven years have passed, but it seemed like only days as my mind began to go back to that day of infamy over a decade ago.
As a sophomore in high school I remember being a little nervous. As a self-proclaimed history buff I knew full well the accounts of the Greatest Generation that dealt a fatal blow to Hitler’s tyranny, just after responding to the only other attack on US soil following Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. This was also on the heels of the War to End All Wars, another decisive victory and display of American military strength.
But I also knew of the more recent missions into Korea and Vietnam; these were campaigns that we did not technically lose, but still made us wonder if our military had not taken a step backwards*. Desert Storm, the only war in my lifetime up to that point, was short and decisive, but obviously not decisive enough since it was the same enemy resurfacing almost a decade later.
Knowledge of these events left me wondering how America would respond to this new face of evil. Would we cower and run? Would we wave the white flag of surrender? Or would we embrace our role as protector of all that right? Would we stand up once again to evil, telling it that it has no place in our world, and that freedom is a universal human right?
You know the answer. And that is why we can look back on 9/11/01 as a day that strengthened America’s core. President George W. Bush, a man who was later assassinated by the media, understood that these terrorists were not to be treated as bank robbers or even serial killers, but as enemy combatants. Bin Laden waged war on our country, and the President chose to act as a peacemaker—peace made by bringing a cowardly mass murderer to justice.
On September 14th, standing amid the rubble at Ground Zero, President Bush tried to address the crew of rescue workers, and a man yelled out, “We can’t hear you!” The President was handed a megaphone, and his non-scripted response was, “Well I can hear you. The whole world can hear you. And soon the people that knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us!”
Years later, President Bush’s successor and polar opposite, President Barack Obama, gave the order that finally took out bin Laden once and for all. Two very different men both understood the same concept: this act of war must be drawn out to its conclusion.
We have our brave men and women to thank. President Bush called on “all who wear the uniform” to be ready, and because of the bravery and service of our men and women, no draft was ever instituted. These soldiers bravely fought, shed blood, and many laid down their lives. I am reminded of the words that Jesus shared with His disciples in the Upper Room in John 15:13. He said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Soldiers show their love for their country and fellow countrymen by laying down their lives, but Jesus was referring to something even greater than that. He knew that within a matter of hours He would be betrayed, illegally tried, and crucified for us.
If you ever doubt God’s love for you, look no further than the cross. It is there that Jesus laid down His life, showing the greatest act of love in all of history.
*This is not suggesting that our soldiers were incapable. The blame lies both with the Administration’s execution and with the media’s goal of turning popular opinion against the war efforts. The same criticism of the media can also be made in their Bush-era coverage of the War on Terror.