America at war

Monday, September 24, 2001
Mike Hendricks

The decisions have been made at the highest level of our government to wage an extended war against worldwide terrorism. We're being told that this war will be protracted, possibly for years, and we're being encouraged to stay the course, keep the faith, be patient, and have confidence in our leadership to do what needs to be done.

Those attitudes are certainly going to occur, ten days out from the Greatest American Tragedy. The question is whether we can expect those attitudes to last. One of the great strengths but also one of the great weaknesses of the human spirit is the ability to forget the past. It is a strength because it allows us to return to normalcy and proceed with our lives. For example, all of us have lost loved ones. The immediate pain of that loss is all consuming. There is an emptiness in our lives that we sense will never be filled. In fact, we are certain we will feel the gravity and intensity of that loss forever. But we don't. The pain subsides. Eventually, gradually, and slowly, we return to normalcy. The tremendous loss and pain is eventually replaced by a fond, loving remembrance of the person who meant so much to us.

On the other hand, forgetting the past is also a weakness because it allows history to repeat itself. There's an old adage that says, "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." How many times have you done something that didn't turn out well and there is so much pain involved that you vow to never repeat that mistake? Yet as time goes by, the pain diminishes and eventually goes away and you repeat the previous mistake because you had forgotten the overwhelming consequences you experienced the last time. The closest thing we've experienced as Americans to the tragic events of last Tuesday was the Oklahoma City bombing. Americans responded to that event in much the same way they responded on Tuesday. But, eventually, everyone's lives returned to normal and the destruction of the Federal Building became a distant memory.

This will be different because of our response to the threat of international terrorism. As the war begins, we will be reminded on a daily basis what hangs in the balance and what triggered the war to begin with. But if we don't act quickly and decisively, the overwhelming majority of people who favor unilateral attacks on the terrorists will begin to decline. It always happens and there's no reason to believe it won't this time as well. We must act and we must act now. And we must act with passion. Regardless of the battlefield, whether it be a combat zone, an athletic contest, or one on one, when sides are more or less evenly matched, it's the side that has the most passion, the greatest desire in their bellies, that usually win. When you're fighting for anything, passion so many times overcomes size, talent, ability, and strength. We have already seen the passion of the enemy. Without any question, the opponent to fear the most is the one who has nothing to lose. When people are willing to plan their own suicide for months and then carry that plan out perfectly, killing thousands of innocent people in the process, we know we are up against an adversary like no other we have faced since the Kamikaze pilots of World War II. We must fight with the same resolve and even greater passion. Because we are not out to avenge only those people who were massacred on September 11th and their families, we are out of defend our very way of life. The personal freedoms that separate us from all other nations on the planet. The ability to live our lives as we see fit, rather than changing our lives because of an unseen, unknown ever-present threat that hangs over our every day existence like the thick black smoke that continues to hang over New York City.

We must fight to win. We must fight to eliminate, as completely as possible, this cowardly, unseen army of invisible criminals who are ready to die for their beliefs. So must we.

May God be with our troops as we launch what the terrorists are calling a Holy War. May good and decency prevail. And, as we have done so many times in our history, we will once again be able to Let Freedom Ring.

God Bless America

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