Thursday, September 7, 2006

Five Years Ago...

If it was the intention of Saudi jackal Osama Bin Laden, and his band of Kool-Aid-imbibing gutter-snipes, to indelibly stain the fabric of our Nation’s history with the heelprint of radical Islamic violence on September 11, 2001, they surely succeeded. The series of incidents, involving four hijacked commercial airliners, instantly took the lives of more than three thousand innocent people, many from Westchester, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, more lives than were lost at Pearl Harbor.

Those of us in New York, perhaps continue to experience the most profound sense of loss and despair. Yes, despair that 1,725 days after that Black Day there is still a huge cavity where the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center once stood for twenty-five years. That hole in the ground bears testament to a lack of leadership in federal, state, and city government unprecedented in recent American history. And, shame on all of us that we would tolerate, indeed, re-elect the likes of George Bush,
George Pataki, and Michael Bloomberg, not one of whom have shown the kind of courage, or moral fiber, that inspired this nation to greatness through our darkest moments. George Bush’s misguided priorities following 9/11 have not only cost as many American lives in Afghanistan and Iraq as were lost on that mournful day, but have sapped our economic strength as we pour hundreds of billions of dollars into countries that view us as “ unwelcome occupiers”, while showing little promise of ever being able to secure any democratic form of government, or peace amongst continually warring religious factions. Five years later what do the people of this nationhave to show for having followed Mr. Bush into his, and Dick Cheney’s, war? How many Americans, after all, hold stock in the Halliburton Corporation?

While we have continued to tolerate a huge crater, where the Towers once proudly stood, thousands of young American men and women have come home in body-bags, quietly without too much fuss. And, tens of thousandsmore have filled our under-funded VA hospitals, trying desperately to reclaim their lives minus arms, legs, and any sense that a grateful nation really values their contribution any more than it valued their father’s, or their grandfather’s, in Vietnam.

As with the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, few of us will ever forget where we were on 9/11 when those planes did the unimaginable. However personal our loss, however traumatized we remain, we must, on this fifth anniversary of our national tragedy, stop, and take stock of where we have been ever since. Clearly, we have not shown the national resolve, nor the compassion we, as Americans, have been admired for throughout history.

Instead, we have permitted greedy and misguided politicians to manipulate and control us in the name of “The Terrorist Threat.” In this regard our enormous economic sacrifices are surpassed only by the sacrifice of our Constitutionally- guaranteed freedoms. We will not win the war against an oppressive, tyrannical, and violent enemy by becoming more like him.

We must not permit our way of life, the very institutions and practices that have defined us as a nation of free peoplefor two hundred and thirty years, to become derailed by the so-called War On Terrorism. We must not allow ourselves to become fragmented as a nation, North versus South, East Coast versus West Coast. Remarks such as the mayor of New Orleans regrettably made about the World Trade Center site are symptomatic of the regional division and desperate scrambling for scarce resources the Bush Administration has caused by its ill-conceived agenda.

We must, once again, see ourselves as Americans, first and foremost. What happened on September 11th, five years ago, happened to us all, as did what happened in New Orleans a year ago. It’s time we rethink about what happened on that day we can never forget, and what has happened to our country in the five years since. Most importantly, we must decide if where we have been going is really where we want to be.

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