It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the day I stood in my parent’s living room and watched the towers burn. Older generations ask if you remember where you were when Kennedy was shot, or when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I remember the Challenger explosion, and the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Strangely, my first reaction when I saw those images, when I watched the second plane smash into the tower, was not fear, was not rage, or anything related. I instead felt a black humor, a grim resignation and instant resolve. The first words out of my mouth were, “So it begins.”
I’m still not sure exactly what I meant by that, but my mom is convinced that it was Prophetic. I’ve long held a passing fascination with end-times eschatology and the Biblical foretellings of doom. I’ve watched as it seemed as though events were knitting together a strangely convergent tapestry of social evolutions and global revolutions heavily suggestive that some of those Biblical events were either occurring, or on the horizon.
The sheer, appalling audacity of the attacks on the WTC by the armies of Islam seemed to me to signal a turning of a corner, a bellwether event that marked the crossing of line past which we would likely never return. My fear, even then, was not for the efficacy of any direct attacks, but instead, for what those attacks would mean to our country, our culture, and our way of life.
I think my concern was founded, in that moment of illumination, in the sense that we might ultimately become our own worst enemy. That the victory of the Islamicists would not be because of the damage they inflicted upon us, but because of the damage they would cause us to inflict upon ourselves.
That concern hasn’t abated.
I lived in Spokane, Washington at the time, right beneath the busy air traffic corridor leading to SeaTac International in Seattle. I’ve always loved planes, and flying, and loved watching the big Jumbos winging their way westward, contrails in tow. For the longest time after 9/11, I could not look at those contrails without fear, without this dread that I would see one of those planes wing over and plummet to earth in the middle of downtown Spokane, or at the nearby Air Force base. For a while, I even stopped looking up, because it was easier to ignore them than to face the awful sense of impending destruction.
I hated the men of Islam who had taken that from me.
I don’t hate them anymore. I have settled into that same sense of grim resignation which comes from the understanding that even now, five years later, their motives, their means, and their goals have not changed. Their methods may have evolved, but their ultimate aim remains the same: To replace our way of life, with theirs. To destroy what we hold dear, what makes us who we are, and to build an empire of THEIR choosing on the ashes of our society
I consciously did not make this an emotional tribute or remberance of those who died on the planes and in the buildings on that fateful day. Not only because there are plenty of others out there who will, but because to me, it is every bit as important to remember WHO killed them and WHY. Perhaps moreso.
The acts of destruction committed on September 11th, 2001 were not isolated events. They were merely the most grandiose in a continuing string of attacks. And they were a clarion call announcing that the Islamic world felt confident enough to attack the United States on its own soil, attacking not just the symbol of our military, but of our culture, of our success, and of our freedoms.
For these are what they truly hate. And while we still have them, The Enemy will not cease to oppose us. Let us remain ever vigilant, however, not just of the hand of The Enemy against us, but that we do not also become a worse enemy of freedom ourselves.