Today is the 22nd remembrance of our modern-day Pearl Harbor, our “date which will live in infamy.” It was on this day, September 11, 2001, that I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on an exchange assignment with the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters. We had just finished morning physical training (PT) and I was dressing in my office after personal hygiene. I got a call from my counterpart at Marina Forces, Atlantic (MARFORLANT) that something had just happened in New York, and I needed to get to the Current Operations Center (COC). As I hurriedly dressed, our entire G3 future operations (FOPS) hall started buzzing. We all scrambled to the COC and arrived just in time to see the second aircraft hit the tower. At that moment, we knew that this was not an accident, it was an attack. Then came the news about the aircraft hitting the Pentagon, at the section that housed the US Army G1 (Personnel) directorate. That was personal because I had friends that were there.
By the time we learned about the crash of the fourth aircraft in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, we were doing what warriors do, asking each other strategic and operational level questions. Who could be responsible? What would be the immediate request or response? How did we begin to prepare our expeditionary forces and get the right DEFCON and preparation levels, and orders issued? It was a long day, but by the end of the day we pieced together all the previous terror attacks, and our assessments were confirmed: Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden.
We started to analyze force package courses of action and potential areas of deployment. All roads led to Afghanistan.
It was a late night, and, finally, we headed home to get some hours of sleep, if possible. I remember getting to my little apartment in Swansboro, NC, and looking up into the sky, and it hit me. There, for the first time in my life, there were no sounds, no blinking lights; the night sky did not speak. I did not sleep well that evening. My wife Angela was from New York, and when we first met, she worked near the World Trade Towers at Bankers Trust. She had been devastated, she and the girls were still living two hours away in Fayetteville, NC, since I had been stationed at Ft. Bragg and we had built a house there. As we talked, my mind pondered when would I be called into action for my second combat duty. I was angry, especially watching my fellow Americans leap from buildings choosing to die in that manner, rather than be burned alive. My mind replayed the collapse of the towers and watched the civilians, Americans, covered in dust. I thought about the NYPD and NYFD men and women who ran to and into the towers and their courage.
My American brothers and sisters had to be avenged, and I would be ready. I had a personal part in the immediate response of America to 9-11. The Special Forces team “Horse Soldiers” who worked with the Northern Alliance enabling them to defeat the Taliban/Al Qaeda and win back Mazar-a-Sharif, was led by one of my former Army ROTC cadets at Kansas State University. The movie “12 Strong” depicted, with some embellishment, their exploits.
I did finally get the call and served in 2003 in Iraq and 2005-2007 in Afghanistan.
But here we are now, 22 years later, and the ghosts of 9-11 are calling out to us. We have allowed the restoration of the very same enemy that enabled the attack on us to regain power. No, I disagree with negotiating with terrorists. Terrorists only understand the language of strength and might, not negotiation, compromise, or appeasement. They equate that with weakness. There is indeed evil in this world, I have seen it, we all experienced it 22 years ago, and on various other occasions. Good cannot coexist with evil, and yes, there are some people who just need to have their asses kicked and killed. I am not some warmonger, but I am a combat veteran and a realist. I believe in Reagan’s mantra, “peace through strength.” Weakness in enticing and abandoning Afghanistan was an act of emboldening our enemies, evil.
Here we are still, 22 years later talking about plea deals with the 9-11 terrorist masterminds. Heck, why are these individuals still alive? They are non-state, non-uniformed belligerents on the battlefield–they deserve only one fate, death. Why are we having our Professional Golf Association going into negotiations with the very country that provided the 9-11 terrorists, not to mention Osama bin Laden? There is no sport, activity, or business dealing that should outweigh what we experienced 22 years ago, and the ghosts of 9-11 are watching.
We should be energy independent, not begging the same country that sent their sons to kill us 22 years ago for energy resources.
How have we come to the point where our very own president will not be in attendance in NYC for the 9-11 remembrance? The ghosts of 9-11 are watching, along with us, who were personally affected by that day of infamy. How abjectly disturbing it was that on the 20th remembrance of 9-11, the Taliban held a celebratory parade in Kabul Afghanistan, displaying the US military equipment that had been left behind.
The spirits of those American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who bled and gave their lives in Afghanistan are watching, including the 13 who, two years ago, unnecessarily lost their lives due to the most significant strategic, operational, and tactical debacle this nation will ever know. Yet, no one has been held responsible. As a matter of fact, those incompetent individuals — who have blood upon their hands — still claim their surrender was a brilliant success.
Where were you this day, 22 years ago, and how will you remember this day, not just today, but for every day going forward? The ghosts of 9-11 had found some semblance of peace, now they have been stirred and walked about in a state of disbelief. They can never be forgotten. This was a day that, 22 years ago, Islamic jihadism – terrorism — came squarely to our door, and 3,000 American lives were lost. It was not a day “when some people did something,” words spoken by a person who is an elected member of our US House of Representatives, someone who should have been immediately removed. This is not a day to make insidious political comparisons to, such as progressive socialist leftists comparing it to January 6th.
As the ghosts of 9-11 stir about, we must do all we can to give their souls peace and closure. That means we must never forget what happened that day, and sadly, an open border policy advances the possibility of such happening again.
Never Forget, 9-11! Let us return a quantum of solace to the ghosts of 9-11.
Steadfast and Loyal.
This article first appeared at Townhall.com.