A Day of Remembrance

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis ætas;
Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam nova progenies cælo demittitur alto.

 

LZAlbany

I’m not going to run my main piece on 9-11 this year. I’m just as proud of it as I was when I ran it for the first time when Nebraska Energy Observer was barely six weeks old. It is called Ten Years Ago, and I think it may be the best post I’ve written. Here is the link to it. I’d be very pleased if you were to read it.

The basis of this post however was a companion to it that I usually run on 10 September. This year I’m going to feature it a little more because so many of our citizens seem to have forgotten what the real cost of freedom is. This is the story of a man, born British who became American fought wars for both countries, and finally gave his life to save the lives of citizens of many countries on 9-11.

There were plenty of heroes on 9/11. Fire and police and port authority all going in. Passengers counterattacking on Flight 93 and various civilians and military in New York and the Pentagon. Even what the military calls NCA, the National Command Authority.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

….
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

~Kipling

But the one that is my especial hero of the day; is my hero because of how he lived his life.

A British NCO from Cornwall who served in the Parachute Regiment, immigrated to the US, served as Platoon Leader, B Co 2/7 Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the Battle of Ia Drang, where he gave the British commands of ‘Fix Bayonets, On Line, Ready forward’. His picture is on the cover of ‘We Were Soldiers’. It is a praiseworthy story prompting us to remember ,

But it doesn’t end there.

On 9/11 he was vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. We all know what happened that day, but do we remember that only six Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated. One them was this man, now a retired Colonel, who stayed to make sure he got his people out. In all those situations, he was singing an old song commemorating the resistance of the Cornish against the British, and Roark’s Drift in the Boer War, and other engagements. That song is:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!

That man was Colonel Rick Rescorla and he is a legend in the 7th Cavalry. He is not a man any of us should ever forget. A real life Sagaman, who lived quietly amongst us.

After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains have not been recovered. He left a wife and two children.

From Shakespeare:

“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world ‘This was a man!'”

The tragedy of 911 was this; multiplied by three thousand.

And thus, on this September 11th the story of how the people of a great American financial institution were rescued by the 7th U.S. Cavalry (Custer’s Own).

But on this twelfth anniversary, we are a troubled people. We have not had any resolution of the attack on Americans a year ago which cost us an ambassador. And it seems our government wants to embroil us in still another mideast civil war, and one in which we can’t seem to decipher if there is a side we would find acceptable to support.

And so we find a large segment once again grateful to the British people and Parliament, for doing what we have not been able to do, and at least slowing down our governments rush to war. They have been our constant friends and companions on the quest of the last dozen years (as have our commonwealth friends) and we have not forgotten, even as they remembered our people with their own after that horrible day

[On a personal note, if you know when and where to look, my coauthor, Jessica, makes an appearance in this video, and yes she was in the Cathedral.]

And so we find that we have many problems to solve in our country, many of which we have not defined adequately enough to even start to formulate a solution, although many of us have begun to work on the problem. It’s too soon to tell but I think as long as we do things like this, one would be very unwise to count us out as yet.

H/T to They Came, They Will Honor, They Will Intimidate Jihadis.


They Came, They Will Honor, They Will Intimidate Jihadis.

 H/T to Photo of the Day: They Came, They Will Honor, They Will Intimidate Jihadis

The poem that opened this post is from the  Eclogue of Virgil:

which translates as follows:

Now comes the final era of the Sibyl’s song;
The great order of the ages is born afresh.
And now justice returns, honored rules return;
now a new lineage is sent down from high heaven.

From it derives our national motto

A New Order of the Ages

Reflections on Terror, Part 2

English: Obama Taliban

English: Obama Taliban (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jess brought forward several issues this morning that I think we should be looking at. So let’s have an overview of them. I just want to note here that I see there are now 10 people in custody in the UK with regards to the murder in Woolwich.

She commented that the press was firmly against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is true, although in this country the opposition became very muted once Obama became President, which tells us it wasn’t actually opposition to the war so much as it was politics. There was room, as always, for opposition to the war, and the WMD issue was troubling, except: Western intelligence agencies all agreed that they were there. We know they were used (not just present) against Iran and against the Kurds as well. Most likely, in my opinion, they were shipped off to Syria just before or during hostilities, and we did find a bunch of yellowcake, a prerequisite to a nuclear weapon. That the press more or less suppressed this information is a different problem.

I see little choice in the case of Afghanistan for taking down the Taliban. The creep into nation-building is something else. The Pottery Barn rule is not revealed wisdom, it is self-imposed. There’s a case to be made that if you attack a country, the damage that country inflicts back on you is your problem. After all, Taliban Afghanistan didn’t offer to replace the World Trade Center or indemnify the families of the victims. So it would be just as fair for us to blow the dickens out of the AQ lairs and go away, or alternatively go all Sherman on them. The fact that the suffering falls on the people is not really my problem, they allowed a government to be in control, that allowed AQ to train and launch that attack.

Iraq is, of course, less clear-cut, but I contend that the Iraqi people are better off for Saddam’s removal, although Obama has thrown many of the benefits they were starting to accrue away by running away. Much of the difference is that Iraq was much more of a secular westernized country. It’s worth remembering though that we had fought a war to prevent Saddam’s aggressive land grab in Kuwait, and had been running a ‘no-fly zone’ ever since. It was a very bipartisan effort going in, and a personally think that fighting the war with a light footprint caused many problems in the aftermath when we were short of people to provide security.

“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” –economist John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

 But in general, I think, much of our problem is that we lack self-confidence in the superiority of our civilization. Anybody that thinks the religious rule of a 7th century Mullah is equivalent to the United States (or Great Britain) needs to emigrate to one. And don’t complain to me when you find out what you believe is just not so.

And this is even more so in our countries. Why are we apologizing for being what we are, we’re not forcing these people to stay, and if they want to live in our countries, which we have built in the image of our culture, they need to adopt our culture, even as all of the former immigrants have. The US and UK are the epitome of free societies that have learned to be self-regulating (maybe, I hope). But you are not at liberty to attempt to destroy our society.

Melanie Phillips had some thoughts the other day on how we defeat Islamic terrorism that I’d like to share with you.

Ever since the spectre of Islamic terrorism in the West first manifested itself, Britain has had its head stuck firmly in the sand.

After both 9/11 and the 7/7 London transport bombings, the Labour government promised to take measures to defend the country against further such attacks.

It defined the problem, however, merely as terrorism, failing to understand that the real issue was the extremist ideas which led to such violence.

Accordingly, it poured money into Muslim community groups, many of which turned out to be dangerously extreme.

When David Cameron came to power, his Government raised hopes of a more realistic approach when it pledged to counter extremist ideas rather than just violence.

This approach, too, has failed. The Government still has no coherent strategy for countering Islamist radicalisation.

Following last week’s barbaric slaughter of Drummer Rigby on the streets of Woolwich by two Islamic fanatics, the Prime Minister has announced that he will head a new Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Task Force.

And the Home Secretary has said she will look at widening the banning of radical groups preaching hate.

But at the heart of these promises remains a crucial gap. That is the need to define just what kind of extremism we are up against.

The Government has been extraordinarily reluctant to do this — because it refuses to face the blindingly obvious fact that this extremism is religious in nature.

Continue reading To defeat Islamic terror, we must first acknowledge what it is | Melanie Phillips.

And to finish this, who better than Winston S. Churchill, from 1940

Sunday was Trinity Sunday.  Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: “Arm yourselves, be ye men of valor, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar.  As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.”

Which of course is from the Book of Maccabees

Islamophobia, part 1

Islam

Islam (Photo credit: rogiro)

Many of us have been accused of Islamophobia in recent years and in truth I think it’s probably. in some measure, true. I don’t believe we are so much afraid of individual Muslims as we are wary of them, particularly in groups. America was of course settled by immigrants and they have nearly always suffered some discrimination. For instance “No Irish Need Apply” was once a very common sign but as they became acclimated the Irish became an integral part of America. So it has been with almost all immigrant groups, None of my great-grandparents (if I understand correctly) spoke English, they spoke only Norwegian all their lives but, my  generation is pretty much indistinguishable from someone whose ancestors came on the Mayflower.

But Muslims seem different, they don’t attempt to assimilate, instead they seem to want to take over and impose their standards and even religion on us, and seem offended when we don’t accept instantly. I know some few Muslims,. unfortunately the ones I know are mostly Somali and speak even less English than I do their language, so our interactions are very limited, the few that I can speak with, I like. Read more of this post

Patriot Day 2012

It’s September 11 again, and again, as if we ever forget, we commemorate the lives lost on 9/11. This is what I wrote last year, so some of you have seen it, I hope you will read it again. I was going to write something new but when I reviewed this, I decided I was very unlikely to find a better way to express my feelings on that day or now. I have not changed anything. I will say that of the 700 odd articles that I have published, I think this one moves me the most, even as that day moved me more than any event in my lifetime has moved me. So, I hope that you enjoy (if that is the word) what I have to say here whether you were one of my early readers who are reading it again or one of the more numerous, who have found something worthwhile here since that day a year ago that this was published. Thank you for joining me in commemorating the victims of many nationalities who gave their lives in New York, in Washington D. C., and in a successful counterattack in Pennsylvania on that awful day.

Ten Years Ago Today

An American flag flies over the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 13, 2001

There isn’t one of us who doesn’t remember what we were doing. I was having a day off and was watching Good Morning, America and I will remember to my dying day Diane Sawyer’s “Oh, my God!”.

I was very lucky though, although I have family working in the financial district, I lost no one close to me. But in a very real sense they were all my family; the workers, the Firemen and Police doing their everyday heroics, the passerby. They were all our family: the family of the free. For this was an attack on freedom. For this was an attack on the free market system and the military that protects it.

To me then and now it hearkened back to another ‘Day of Infamy‘: 7 December 1941, both in the manner of the attack, a sneak attack on a peaceful country, and in how I instantly understood, as I never had, what my parents and their generation had felt on that awful Sunday afternoon.

And I knew something else, even as they had, I now lived in a country at war, where nothing short of victory was acceptable. I thought my country was united in that, I still think most of it is. I also knew that the retribution of America and her allies would be terrible and no interference by anyone would be tolerated. For indeed “They had sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat”.

And I was heartened by the reaction of the world, especially this:

Nobody ever showed their support better, which is not surprising, after all the Queen has known us well since she was Princess Elizabeth driving an ambulance in the Second World War.

Another thing I understand now was my Dad’s and his generation’s respect for Roosevelt even if they disagreed with almost all of his policies, he was the war president. I now have that feeling, even love, for George W. Bush.

We really are an exceptional nation, nobody in the world, outside of the Anglosphere understood our determination, in Bevin Alexander’s words “to proceed door to door in the very heart of the Arab-Muslim world, to make clear that we were ready to kill and to die to stop our society from being undermined, and to say, gun in hand, to the people, and to the governments who permit terrorists to exist, “What is it that you don’t understand about leaving our country alone?”” And I find it notable that those stalwart Allies of the Anglosphere are marching forward to the battle in step with us, as it has been for nearly a century now.

And so, almost before we knew what was happening the first counterattack was underway. It ended in a smoking hole in Pennsylvania, it was a very expensive counterattack but it was successful. And like the targets of the attack itself, it was conducted by ordinary Americans, no different than you and me.  The counterattack launched with that simple command, “Let’s Roll”.

The time for our superb military had not yet come. But it would, with dire consequences for our enemies.

Bin Laden should have studied us better, for indeed the man who said this was half American:

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.

The American people are difficult to turn into an enemy, for we much prefer to be everyone’s  friend, but attacking the homeland will do it, every time. There is no more fearsome enemy in the history of the world than the aroused people of America.

A quick look back will show this. On 7 December 1941 the battleship USS Arizona was sunk on battleship row in Pearl Harbor. 35 months later, the other old battleships of the 7th Fleet, also sunk at Pearl Harbor, sank the Japanese fleet at Leyte Gulf, in the last surface gun action ever fought. The new battleships in 3rd fleet were off chasing the IJN’s aircraft carriers. Moored close to the Arizona is the USS Missouri on whose deck 11 months after Leyte Gulf, in Tokyo Bay, Imperial Japan surrendered. Yes, we are impatient, and sometimes fickle, but do not mess with our homeland.

It never fails to amaze me how much the enemies of the United States rely upon the goodness and restraint of the United States. The Taliban who supported al Qaeda knew that their sheer existence beyond the next 30 minutes depended exclusively on the forbearance of the United States.

If we were the imperial power that we are so often accused of being, Afghanistan would now be the world’s largest sheet of glass. If a city rebelled against Imperial Rome, the retribution was that every living thing, right down to the dogs, was put to the sword, the city was destroyed and the ruins sown with salt, so nothing would grow. I dare you to find Carthage on a current map.

Instead we very carefully target our retribution on those that we believe are guilty. Indeed, we have developed weapons that allow us to target an individual  from several hundred miles away. Instead of our massive air raids in World War II we now use a stealth aircraft with individually targeted missiles. I have seen reports that say that the Pakistanis, when they see one of our drones overhead, calmly go about their business, knowing that only the target is in danger, as opposed to the panic when their own air force is attacking.

This is the way that America, a country that values each and every human life makes war.

This is America the Avenger. Not on the innocent people of cities and countries, but upon the malefactors hiding in its back streets and hills.

This is America at war. Not destroying cities and countries but only individual enemies.

This is America, the superpower that can destroy any country on Earth in an hour, but chooses to put its own sons and daughters at risk to find only the guilty.

This is America, where steel from the World Trade Center now is incorporated into the bow of the USS New York, leading the ship into harms way.

This is America, the first revolutionaries, who learned to control the revolution, but not to let it die and slip back into tyranny, about whom our President said, long ago:

  We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

and who later that day also said:

  Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.  Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

  In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

This is the America that I grew up in and love, and I will not allow the destruction of, from without or within. For above all others, this hill, with its city gleaming bright, is worth dying for and worth living for.

Many things have happened since President Kennedy said those words on a cold January morning.

The Berlin Wall was built up and torn down.

The World Trade Center was built up and knocked down.

The specter of the Soviet Union no longer threatens the world.

The threat of Islamofascism has arisen from the shadows.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain that had descended across the Continent, has now been lifted.* Old and proud states of eastern Europe have been liberated. Many having seen what America believes, in action, have become proud allies of America.

Al Qaeda decided that the old American will had been eroded and has had that illusion shattered, and is on its way to destruction. Almost weekly we hear of the demise of more of its leadership as America again sorts out the guilty from the innocent.

Many things have happened since 9/11/01 also. How will it all work out? We will never know. This is the eternal war between liberty and slavery.

As Cassandra of Villainous Company put it on 27 June 2005:

Our own Revolution was not without blemish. Innocent men were tarred and feathered. Families torn asunder. People bled, and suffered and starved. There was even [shudder] terrorism. But it lit a flame that has burned brightly for over 200 years. There are signs that this is happening in the MiddleEast: Arabs are looking at election day in Iraq and Afghanistan and demanding democratic reforms in Egypt and Lebanon and Kuwait. The fire in men’s (and women’s) hearts is spreading.

We would like certainty. We would like painless progress. We would like closure. We will not get any of those things.

On July 4th we must ask ourselves, what do we believe? Our military – brand new immigrants who enlist before the ink is dry on their visas – believe in those words so strongly that they will lay down their lives to spread the fire of democracy. They also believe (as I do) that their purpose is to serve American foreign policy aims, no matter how abstract and long-term they may seem. No matter how difficult to explain to the American people. No matter how frustrating in the short term.

What kind of world will we bequeath to our grandchildren? It may be that long before we know. But our actions today will have an incalculable effect on that far-off tomorrow. And if our policy is not firmly grounded in the spread of those long-ago words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

…then I wonder if we shall not be the first Americans who fail to pass the blessings of liberty on to the next generation?

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph. is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.

And so as we remember and celebrate the lives of the victims of that horrible day ten years ago, so we must also renew our determination that their sacrifice and the sacrifices of our military since shall not have been in vain. For as another President said:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

A note to our Comrades in Arms, that Band of Brothers (and Sisters) that fight alongside us for freedom. We remember your contributions and mourn your losses as our own. For truly you are partaking in the American dream even as we are. For that dream is nothing less than freedom itself.

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis ætas;
Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam nova progenies cælo demittitur alto.

From the  Eclogue of Virgil:

which translates as follows:
Now comes the final era of the Sibyl’s song;
The great order of the ages is born afresh.
And now justice returns, honored rules return;
now a new lineage is sent down from high heaven.

* Adapted from Sir Winston Churchill at Fulton, Missouri.

Editor’s note: at the time that this was written Villainous Company was not in service so this year I can provide the link to the article that the except come from. It’s entitled: Why I Am Patriotic: A Love Letter to America It is one of my favorite sites, I cannot recommend it too highly, although I don’t get there as often as I should.

A Man for All Seasons

LZAlbany

Next Tuesday is 911 again, and while it’s not going to be commemorated like it was last year, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember it this (and every) year. This is the story of one man who made a huge difference that dark day. He’s sometimes called “The Man who foresaw 911″.

I like to think of him as still another gift from our British cousins and an example of a man who did his duty, supremely well.

 

There were plenty of heroes on 9/11. Fire and police and port authority all going in. Passengers counterattacking on Flight 93 and various civilians and military in New York and the Pentagon. Even what the military calls NCA, the National Command Authority.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

….
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

~Kipling

But the one that is my especial hero of the day; is my hero because of how he lived his life.

A British NCO from Cornwall who served in the Parachute Regiment, immigrated to the US, served as Platoon Leader, B Co 2/7 Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the battle of Ia Drang, where he gave the British commands of ‘Fix Bayonets, On Line, Ready forward’. His picture is on the cover of ‘We Were Soldiers’. It is a praiseworthy story prompting us to Remember ,

but it doesn’t end there.

On 9/11 he was vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. We all know what happened that day, but do we remember that only six Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated. One them was this man, now a retired Colonel, who stayed to make sure he got his people out. In all those situations, he was singing an old song commemorating the resistance of the Cornish against the British, and Roark’s Drift in the Boer War, and other engagements. That song is:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!

That man was Colonel Rick Rescorla and he is a legend in the 7th Cavalry. He is not a man any of us should ever forget. A real life Sagaman, who lived quietly amongst us. From Shakespeare:

“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world ‘This was a man!'”

The tragedy of 911 was this; multiplied by three thousand.

After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains have not been recovered. He left a wife and two children.

He is my hero not least because he fulfilled to the last breath the leadership credo that the Air Force taught me, and so many others:

First: The Mission

Always: the People

Last: Yourself

And thus, on this September 7th the story of how the people of a great American financial institution were rescued by the 7th U.S. Cavalry (Custer’s Own).




		

Ten Years Ago Today.

An American flag flies over the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 13, 2001

There isn’t one of us who doesn’t remember what we were doing. I was having a day off and was watching Good Morning, America and I will remember to my dying day Diane Sawyer’s “Oh, my God!”.

I was very lucky though, although I have family working in the financial district, I lost no one close to me. But in a very real sense they were all my family; the workers, the Firemen and Police doing their everyday heroics, the passerby. They were all our family: the family of the free. For this was an attack on freedom. For this was an attack on the free market system and the military that protects it.

To me then and now it hearkened back to another ‘Day of Infamy‘: 7 December 1941, both in the manner of the attack, a sneak attack on a peaceful country, and in how I instantly understood, as I never had, what my parents and their generation had felt on that awful Sunday afternoon.

And I knew something else, even as they had, I now lived in a country at war, where nothing short of victory was acceptable. I thought my country was united in that, I still think most of it is. I also knew that the retribution of America and her allies would be terrible and no interference by anyone would be tolerated. For indeed “They had sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat”.

And I was heartened by the reaction of the world, especially this:

Nobody ever showed their support better, which is not surprising, after all the Queen has known us well since she was Princess Elizabeth driving an ambulance in the Second World War.

Another thing I understand now was my Dad’s and his generation’s respect for Roosevelt even if they disagreed with almost all of his policies, he was the war president. I now have that feeling, even love, for George W. Bush.

We really are an exceptional nation, nobody in the world, outside of the Anglosphere understood our determination, in Bevin Alexander’s words “to proceed door to door in the very heart of the Arab-Muslim world, to make clear that we were ready to kill and to die to stop our society from being undermined, and to say, gun in hand, to the people, and to the governments who permit terrorists to exist, “What is it that you don’t understand about leaving our country alone?”” And I find it notable that those stalwart Allies of the Anglosphere are marching forward to the battle in step with us, as it has been for nearly a century now.

And so, almost before we knew what was happening the first counterattack was underway. It ended in a smoking hole in Pennsylvania, it was a very expensive counterattack but it was successful. And like the targets of the attack itself, it was conducted by ordinary Americans, no different than you and me.  The counterattack launched with that simple command, “Let’s Roll”.

The time for our superb military had not yet come. But it would, with dire consequences for our enemies.

Bin Laden should have studied us better, for indeed the man who said this was half American:

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.

The American people are difficult to turn into an enemy, for we much prefer to be everyone’s  friend, but attacking the homeland will do it, every time. There is no more fearsome enemy in the history of the world than the aroused people of America.

A quick look back will show this. On 7 December 1941 the battleship USS Arizona was sunk on battleship row in Pearl Harbor. 35 months later, the other old battleships of the 7th Fleet, also sunk at Pearl Harbor, sank the Japanese fleet at Leyte Gulf, in the last surface gun action ever fought. The new battleships in 3rd fleet were off chasing the IJN’s aircraft carriers. Moored close to the Arizona is the USS Missouri on whose deck 11 months after Leyte Gulf, in Tokyo Bay, Imperial Japan surrendered. Yes, we are impatient, and sometimes fickle, but do not mess with our homeland.

It never fails to amaze me how much the enemies of the United States rely upon the goodness and restraint of the United States. The Taliban who supported al Qaeda knew that their sheer existence beyond the next 30 minutes depended exclusively on the forbearance of the United States.

If we were the imperial power that we are so often accused of being, Afghanistan would now be the world’s largest sheet of glass. If a city rebelled against Imperial Rome, the retribution was that every living thing, right down to the dogs, was put to the sword, the city was destroyed and the ruins sown with salt, so nothing would grow. I dare you to find Carthage on a current map.

Instead we very carefully target our retribution on those that we believe are guilty. Indeed, we have developed weapons that allow us to target an individual  from several hundred miles away. Instead of our massive air raids in World War II we now use a stealth aircraft with individually targeted missiles. I have seen reports that say that the Pakistanis, when they see one of our drones overhead, calmly go about their business, knowing that only the target is in danger, as opposed to the panic when their own air force is attacking.

This is the way that America, a country that values each and every human life makes war.

This is America the Avenger. Not on the innocent people of cities and countries, but upon the malefactors hiding in its back streets and hills.

This is America at war. Not destroying cities and countries but only individual enemies.

This is America, the superpower that can destroy any country on Earth in an hour, but chooses to put its own sons and daughters at risk to find only the guilty.

This is America, where steel from the World Trade Center now is incorporated into the bow of the USS New York, leading the ship into harms way.

This is America, the first revolutionaries, who learned to control the revolution, but not to let it die and slip back into tyranny, about whom our President said, long ago:

  We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

and who later that day also said:

  Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.  Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

  In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

This is the America that I grew up in and love, and I will not allow the destruction of, from without or within. For above all others, this hill, with its city gleaming bright, is worth dying for and worth living for.

Many things have happened since President Kennedy said those words on a cold January morning.

The Berlin Wall was built up and torn down.

The World Trade Center was built up and knocked down.

The specter of the Soviet Union no longer threatens the world.

The threat of Islamofascism has arisen from the shadows.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain that had descended across the Continent, has now been lifted.* Old and proud states of eastern Europe have been liberated. Many having seen what America believes, in action, have become proud allies of America.

Al Qaeda decided that the old American will had been eroded and has had that illusion shattered, and is on its way to destruction. Almost weekly we hear of the demise of more of its leadership as America again sorts out the guilty from the innocent.

Many things have happened since 9/11/01 also. How will it all work out? We will never know. This is the eternal war between liberty and slavery.

As Cassandra of Villainous Company put it on 27 June 2005:

Our own Revolution was not without blemish. Innocent men were tarred and feathered. Families torn asunder. People bled, and suffered and starved. There was even [shudder] terrorism. But it lit a flame that has burned brightly for over 200 years. There are signs that this is happening in the MiddleEast: Arabs are looking at election day in Iraq and Afghanistan and demanding democratic reforms in Egypt and Lebanon and Kuwait. The fire in men’s (and women’s) hearts is spreading.

We would like certainty. We would like painless progress. We would like closure. We will not get any of those things.

On July 4th we must ask ourselves, what do we believe? Our military – brand new immigrants who enlist before the ink is dry on their visas – believe in those words so strongly that they will lay down their lives to spread the fire of democracy. They also believe (as I do) that their purpose is to serve American foreign policy aims, no matter how abstract and long-term they may seem. No matter how difficult to explain to the American people. No matter how frustrating in the short term.

What kind of world will we bequeath to our grandchildren? It may be that long before we know. But our actions today will have an incalculable effect on that far-off tomorrow. And if our policy is not firmly grounded in the spread of those long-ago words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

…then I wonder if we shall not be the first Americans who fail to pass the blessings of liberty on to the next generation?

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph. is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.

And so as we remember and celebrate the lives of the victims of that horrible day ten years ago, so we must also renew our determination that their sacrifice and the sacrifices of our military since shall not have been in vain. For as another President said:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

A note to our Comrades in Arms, that Band of Brothers (and Sisters) that fight alongside us for freedom. We remember your contributions and mourn your losses as our own. For truly you are partaking in the American dream even as we are. For that dream is nothing less than freedom itself.

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis ætas;
Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam nova progenies cælo demittitur alto.

From the  Eclogue of Virgil:

which translates as follows:
Now comes the final era of the Sibyl’s song;
The great order of the ages is born afresh.
And now justice returns, honored rules return;
now a new lineage is sent down from high heaven.

* Adapted from Sir Winston Churchill at Fulton, Missouri.

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