Current Commentary

Veterans Take
Guest Editor
Curtis Hendel


The Longest Day

Hard to believe that it has been a year since the heinous attack on our country, our way of life, and our spirit. It was like one we had never seen; it was as unmilitary as it was unexpected. Suddenly we were threatened as never before. Suddenly our lives changed forever. Like December 7, 1941 it was a blindsided attack that we never could have expected. Like the day JFK was assassinated we will all remember where we were when we heard the news and it began to sink in.

As we look back on the year, we remember a short period of shock and disbelief followed by a great anger for the cowards that changed our lives. How could any group of human beings devise and carry out such an attack? Politicians dropped partisan attitudes and decided to work together for a short time. Immense pride and patriotism in our country was soon to follow. All though the shine has worn off of the initial show of patriotism, the spirit of our nation still shines through.

It became the year of the hero. There were the heroes that changed the evil plans of the terrorists on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. The terrorists thought they were playing mind games, allowing people to call their families. The people on that flight learned the fate of the others and decided it would not be theirs. They would not be used to hurt others and add greater pain to the longest day. In a gallant effort, they stormed the terrorists and as an end result the plane went into a nosedive and crashed into a field. Although they all perished, no one else was harmed. Ultimately they got what they wanted the most, and in the process became known as heroes.

Firemen, policemen, paramedics and EMT’s were honored all across this nation in memory of those who died trying to rescue civilians caught up in the politically motivated attack. Those who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center were heroes. They sacrificed themselves, in an unknown situation, for the sake of fellow human beings. In parades and ceremonies all over the country, professionals and volunteers alike were noticed for their service to their communities. These honors were deserved.

Unfortunately some of the most important heroes were missed. Heroes that spent parts of their young lives in preparation to react to an action such as this. Our military went into action as the nation mourned. We were suddenly at war, and now the years of preparation would come to great use. This would not be a normal war, but a war without boundaries or clear enemies. A global war against a global terrorist organization that moves like a shadow and spreads like the common cold. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have been at war for a year. They have spent a year away from their families and many away from their children; this is a year that cannot be replaced.

Through intense training and actual combat, our service men are risking their lives on a daily basis just as so many have in the past. Putting it all on the line for each one of us as their predecessors have done throughout history. All of the veterans in this country put themselves on the line when they entered the military and they understood what they were doing. They conduct dangerous training to prepare to protect our country and go to war if necessary. So many of them have fought in the wars, great and small. So many have died in war and peacetime for everybody in this country.

In recent surveys, 25% of Americans did not feel that we were at war. Have they forgotten the troops in Afghanistan and the Special Forces all over the globe? What about the National Guard troops that have been activated from well paying jobs and stand to serve another full year? At the same time 40% of Americans felt we were not doing enough in the War on Terrorism, as many others did not want us to attack the terrorist Saddam Hussein. These are stunning numbers and stunning contradictions. Are all of us aware of the things that are going on in the world? Are we that wrapped up in our own troubles to forget the men and women fighting to protect us? Let us not forget the bravest of the brave, those who would choose to sacrifice it all any day of the year.

So as we honor those who showed great bravery on 9-11, let us remember those who have served their country throughout the years. You may have a veteran in your family that you aren’t even aware of. So many veterans do not talk about their time in the service because they feel people will not be interested. Find these veterans and do them a favor, ask them to tell you what it was like. For some of the older veterans passing on stories of war and peace service to younger people gives them great joy and purpose. You can learn much from them. If you don’t have a veteran in your family, find one in a nursing home or coffee shop or a Legion or VFW and just say “thanks”. You will make their day and it is the least you can do for someone who did so much for you.

A Proud American Veteran

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