Ground Zero

I spent the past several days in New York City. It was my first trip to the Big Apple since September 11. I was there for pleasure, to catch up with some old friends who I haven’t seen in a while. However, yesterday, the fun took a short break when I traveled to lower Manhattan to see Ground Zero.

Having seen this area may times on television during the past eight years, I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. The former World Trade Center site now looks like almost any other large downtown urban construction project. You can get a sense of that from the attached picture that I took in the New York City rain. The construction fencing had references to the memorial that is planned for the site, but there is currently little else that would lead you to believe that this was the site of the greatest tragedy of post World War II America. The final resting place for almost 3,000 Americans who did nothing but get up and go to work that morning.

People were walking by and entering and exiting the subway. Other than a few tourists, like myself, no one in the area was behaving like anything was wrong. Life must go on and New Yorkers cannot spend every moment of every day being consumed by the tragedy, I understand that. Being there, I remembered that day - leaving my office in the morning because there would be no afternoon trains out of downtown Chicago. I tried to contact my friend, Howie, who lived and worked in Manhattan. Calls would not go through to his office phone or his cell phone, but I finally got through with an email. Then, going to my friend, Adam’s, office in the suburbs and watching the towers collapse on his small TV. At that point, we all knew there would be few, if any, survivors.

Howie, who accompanied me, a native New Yorker, spoke of the two friends that he knew who died in the twin towers. I then told him of my friend’s brother who is a New York City fireman. This particular firefighter had just finished his probationary period and was taking a few days off following Labor Day, 2001. While he was sitting at the beach, vacationing on the Jersey Shore, his entire fire house was killed by Islamists.

As time goes on, my fear is that our collective memories of that awful fall day will fade. They fade to the point where we and our elected officials no longer recognize the threat posed by Islamists. We now desire to talk to them as opposed to destroying them. We now excuse their actions because of their so called anger at us as opposed expressing our outrage at them. Our leaders now make excuses for them as opposed to their leaders apologizing to us. We now worry about the rights of the terrorists as opposed to worrying about justice for the families of the victims.

As the Jews rightfully say about the Holocaust, “Never forget”, it is incumbent upon every American never to forget what happened to us on September 11, 2001. Our actions should be governed by the notion that we will never allow something like this to happen again. We must demand this from our politicians. The elected officials who do not understand this are not fit to hold office. The first role of the federal government is to protect its citizens. Unfortunately, on 9/11, the government failed in its mission. Now, however, they are on notice.

I urge everyone of you to take the time to go to Ground Zero. See it for yourself. Explain it to you children. Remember what happened to us that day. Remember those that had to make the decision to die by jumping out of the 100th floor window or die by being incinerated by jet fuel. Then, demand accountability from our leaders so that this cannot happen again!

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