When I Think About 9/11

Here is the opening paragraph of my letter to the editor of the Greenville News, printed on September 17, 2001: 

“The world has not changed; it has been revealed. We can no longer deny the dangers of our planet. Americans have long sought to feel protected by power and distance as we try to hide behind that crumbling fantasy. Our way of life, our hopes and dreams, our world is at risk. And now we know it. The heart and soul of our America has been breached.” 

When I think about 9/11 I remember my own tragedy. 

By the time I wrote this letter to the editor I was already feeling the early signs of what would become my worst bout with depression -- six months of almost total incapacity, barely able to feed myself and do the minimal of required daily functions. I had quit my successful career a year earlier because I could no longer hide the symptoms of my 40 year struggle (after Vietnam) with PTSD. I was in such a state of denial I couldn't even face why I had stopped working. I had spent that year trying to start a company that I could operate without dealing with all the stresses of working in my old career. That effort was about to tumble down around me and fail miserably; it was just a harebrained idea with almost no chance of success anyway. Things stayed bad and got worse after that. A bungled suicide attempt was the bottom I finally reached eight years later. 

But before my personal world tumbled down around me, I saw something on my television that made my problems look insignificant. On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was watching a local TV show when a news bulletin interrupted the program. Over the next several hours I sat and watched in horror. Planes crashing into buildings, buildings crumbling to the ground, people jumping to their deaths. This didn't seem possible. We were at war and we didn't even know who had attacked us. 

My nephew had been visiting in New York and was supposed to fly home. Some long hours went by before we learned his flight had been canceled and he was safe. Over the next few days I spent a lot of time with my mother. She lived alone and was approaching her eighties. Watching over her and reassuring her that no more attacks would come became my shield against my pending depression. I prayed a lot for all the people who died and all the families who lost loved ones and for my mother, whose state of mind was more precious to me than my own. 

It almost seems shameful to think about my own troubles in the midst of this tragedy. But that is one of the troubling parts of life – others will die but the living must go on. America recovered from the trauma of 9/11 but we must never forget. We must remember what happened on that day with a crystal clarity. We must use that memory to remind us to stay on guard against the evils of this world. 

When I think about 9/11 I worry it will happen again. 

It can happen again. It can be much worse. We could loose a city, or several. We have let our country fall into a weakened state from decades of socialist polices from both political parties. It is conceivable that a broader attack could destroy our economy. Every moment a weak president is in office and corrupt politicians walk the halls of congress is a dangerous moment for America. The 9/11 attacks were possible because of decades of liberal negligence. 

We have to turn this country around. America will survive if she regains her focus on the principles laid down by the founders. America will survive if her military remains strong and her intelligence agencies have the tools they need to keep us safe. America will survive if her people are moral. America will survive if the restraints of government are lifted from American capitalism. America will survive if the creeping socialism that chokes her now is permanently defeated. 

When I think about 9/11 I see connections with broader issues. 

I'm just one unimportant little man but I think I see a parallel between my issues with PTSD, depression and anxiety and the woes that afflict my country. I spent forty years in avoidance and denial. America has spent many decades avoiding and denying as she slides into socialism. I am facing my problems. It's a tough time ahead for me but I see where I've gone wrong and, through therapy and my own efforts, I'm correcting my course. I pray to God that my country and her citizens can face the problems that plague her. 

Let us not permit the trauma of one great tragedy from ten years ago to be eclipsed by an even greater tragedy in our future. 

From my letter, “The heart and soul of our America has been breached.” That was true when the World Trade Center towers fell. But America's heart and America's soul was breached by socialism long before that tragic day. The road to socialism is dark and destructive. Somewhere along that road lies the end of the American experiment and the American dream. It is not too late. America can regain all she has lost and become a great nation again. My struggle is her struggle. I want us both to survive, to prosper, to reach that highest potential available only to those who have earned it. 

“Our way of life, our hopes and dreams, our world is at risk. And now we know it.” It was true on 9/11 and it is true today. We have watched in shock while a socialist president lies his way into office and dismantles our country with breathtaking speed. Few Americans thought we could have come this far this quickly. This is what happens when good people do nothing or too little. 

“The world has not changed; it has been revealed.” Socialism was happening and we couldn't see it. Or should I say, we wouldn't see it. We see it now. We are beginning to understand what we must do to correct this mess we have permitted to happen to our great country. We can't avoid the problems any longer; they are quickly becoming insurmountable. We can't deny that the problems exist because they have begun to affect all of us. 

“We can no longer deny the dangers of our planet. Americans have long sought to feel protected by power and distance as we try to hide behind that crumbling fantasy.” An even greater danger lies within our own borders, not across the ocean in some distant land were fanatics blend religion and politics into a cocktail of hate. The danger that drains our power, that destroys our liberty, that can bring an end to the greatest country on the planet has hid behind faulty good intentions for decades but boldly walks among us now. And it will defeat us if we let it. Too many Americans have always thought liberty was so just and so right it could survive on auto-pilot. That crumbling fantasy has disintegrated before our eyes. We see the damage. We know why it happened; we weren't paying attention. We are paying attention now. Modern liberal socialists ruin societies, bankrupt countries. We don't have to listen to them. We don't have to understand them. We just have to defeat them. 

September 11, 2001 was a terrible day that we must always remember. Our country survived that day. The country envisioned by our founders will not survive the trauma of socialism. I pray that no American in the distant future will ever have to strain to think back and remember a time when a freedom-loving America existed. 

When I think about 9/11 I look to solutions. 

At some point 9/11 must become a little less about the victims and a lot more about the survivors. Thoughts of why they hate us must turn to how we let it happen. Through our own thoughtless inattention we are weakening, faltering, sinking down into socialsim. Fix that and another 9/11, or worse, won't happen. Fix that and America will flourish, not perish. The path to America's solutions will be painful, will take decades, will require persistence, will need leaders and heroes and people like you and me. 

This country we love is suffering a great trauma but she need not fail. America can be made well again. The therapy she needs must be provided by her citizens.