Today is my birthday. It is an anniversary I share with major league baseball greats Randy Johnson and Roger Maris, golf legend Arnold Palmer, and TV personality Bill O’Reilly.
Another way in which the living members of this accidental fraternity are linked is in what our special day has become a somber prelude to. On Sept. 11, 2010, I recounted my recollections of the day the world changed. Writing at Hot Air, I recalled the events of that particular morning:
I was sleeping in when my wife roused me just before 9 o’clock to tell me that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. My first thought was that a small private aircraft had drifted off course and collided with the towering structure, much like the accident in 1945 when a B-25 plowed into the Empire State Building, destroying part of the 79th floor. Then a short while later, my wife came back in as I was dressing to tell me that a second plane had struck, and I knew it was no accident.
Moments later I saw the first televised images, and my heart sank. I knew almost instinctively that it was an act of war.
The rest of my musings are largely personal, but in the penultimate paragraph I went on to observe:
What has been lost can never be reclaimed. Each year, New Yorkers gather to hear the solemn reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 who died needlessly and under unimaginably horrible circumstances. We listen as the bells toll to mark the time when each tower fell.
But we, as New Yorkers and Americans, have also gained. We have gained the knowledge that in our best moments we are all brothers who have each others’ back. He have learned the grim lesson that our once-held notions of evil and depraved indifference toward life don’t come close to describing the hatred that some men carry in their hearts. We have learned to be ever vigilant. We have learned that we need to be each other’s shepherd as we walk the uncertain streets of an uncertain city. Finally, we have learned to recite and re-recite anew a sacred two-word pledge: “Never again.”
Sadly, as we arrive at the eve of another Sept. 11, I no longer believe that we are united in our resolve to protect ourselves or our loved ones, or to prevent another 9/11 from occurring. The nation has become hopelessly fractured by petty politics and, more importantly, by the refusal of many to give evil a name. Our borders are more porous than ever, and those who would do us harm have once again taken up residence among us. Mindful of the threat, our leaders have gone into damage control mode — but to protect their own reputations and political ambitions, not the homeland. A perfect storm is brewing, but our president is off fencing with climate windmills.
I hope to God I am wrong about these grim pronouncements and that there are buffers in place that will save us from having to repeat history. But I’m no longer counting on it.
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