Whenever I see death, especially futile death, I never feel sad at first. I feel anger. Life is wonderful and every second is precious, so I get mad when someone dies. Later I feel the loss, the sadness and the pain, but right at first I feel angry. Tuesday morning, on 911, I felt angry, to say the least.
At first report I thought that some clown at the controls of an airplane had accidentally hit the first tower, like when the Empire State Building was hit in the 1940's, but the second attack on the second tower obviously changed all that. I hung on every word from my radio at the office and I tried to get more news from Internet sites. I saw the people of New York, stunned, watching the World Trade Center burning out of control. I saw people deciding to jump from 100+ stories to evade the 2000-degree jet fuel fires in the floors below them. A few minutes before their only decisions were the mundane ones of every day life just like us.
As the day wore on and we found that airplanes had been hijacked and innocent Americans were thrown, as pawns in a twisted cause, at 500 miles per hour into buildings, because somebody, somewhere hates our way of life, it angered and sickened me. Right away my mind conjured up pictures of a handful of men taking over the aircraft, probably killing a few people to pacify the others. I realized that the flight crew would never have been so coerced as to drive their planes into buildings, so I knew that the hijackers must have stormed the cabin and killed or incapacitated the crew.
Aboard the other two planes, the passengers knew what their fates would be, because they'd heard of the first two planes. On one of the planes some passengers, knowing they were dead if they did nothing, decided to fight. They were unable to save themselves, but they doubtless saved many others had they sat tight. They are heroes and we should always remember them.
Firefighters and cops did what they always do, bless their unselfish hearts. They ran into burning, ruined buildings to save others and were sacrificed by the scores when the buildings fell.
I put myself in the shoes of all those people and I made decisions, too. My first decision was that, since I stood in line for four hours on my wife's birthday to vote for George W. he'd better darn well not let me down. I also decided that I personally would be willing to fight abroad to avenge these people. Yeah, I'm a little past the age of enlistment, but in 1978, when I had to sign up for the draft under Carter, I was a prime candidate and I realized that I could and would fight and possibly die, for America. Having to sign up for the draft puts things in a new perspective. My decision still stands today and I'll bet at 41 I could make it.
I also decided that I would be willing to endure a few years of hardship at home if that's what it takes to root out the terrorists, not just the ones who attacked New York, but as many of their ilk, and those who harbor them, as we can find. We probably can't just smart-bomb our way out of this one, either. We bombed Iraq so hard ten years ago that the flies left the camels for safer places and by the time our tanks got there, even Iraq's best were ready to surrender in droves. This time we probably have to do more on the ground against a people who withstood the Soviet Union's best for several years. Yes, we will get bloodied, but we already wear the blood and smoke of New York.
I thought it was just me, once again, living in my own don't-take-no-crap-from-foreigners world. It still surprises me that pretty much the whole country agrees with me now. We might have a hard road ahead and we might lose loved ones to war, but in the end we'll be better off having defeated these huge terrorist organizations.
Democrats and Republicans are coming together and forgetting their differences for now because, when you get right down to it, we all really want what's best for America; it's the details we squabble about. I've seen political leaders from the other party as Americans all week and I've realized that many of them are not necessarily the buffoons I thought they were. This week as the world coalition comes together behind us and we find that we have more allies than we expected (Iran!?? Go figure!) I think we're doing it right. We're not just lashing out in anger, but steadily putting together a plan of action. Their day is coming - and soon.