It was the best of times… it was the worst of times

So I had the honor of speaking at a 9/11 memorial on Tuesday. I spent a few days prior scanning all the various memorial services being mentioned on the news, and looked at a few from previous years. Most were about Our Great Nation, and How America Will Prevail. Not that I don’t believe those things, but I’ve become really fed up with rhetoric amongst all the bullshit election coverage and ads, plus I wanted to do something a little less flamboyant and a little more… personal. So I went with what’s below. It seemed to be very well-received from the feedback I got the rest of the day.

For those who think it cuts off a little suddenly, you’re right. I’ve omitted the closing, because it contained a lot of personal detail and I do want to keep this blog somewhat anonymous. Our organization lost two members on September 11th, and my closing was reading the emails I sent to those mens’ wives the night before, letting them know their husbands haven’t been forgotten by us, and we honor them not only every year, but remember them every day, as the small memorial we erected for them is the first thing anyone sees when pulling into our parking lot. And so it goes… see what you think.

Good morning, and thank you all for taking the time to be here.

There have been many moments which can be pointed out as pivotal in our nation’s history, but it frequently seems those dates which are the most enduring in our memories, are those born of violence and which directly threatened the basic tenet of our society which we tend to define as our most significant: our freedom. The declaration of our country as a sovereign nation on July 4, 1776; the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941; and the reason we are gathered here this morning, and the reason this flag embroidered with 2,982 names is flying at half staff above me: the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Where we were on that day, that morning, is an event which will always be in our memories; for most of those who weren’t yet born or were too young to remember, it’s an important and poignant, yet, with all due respect, somewhat abstract event to be recognized. For those of us that lived through it, it’s a memory to be both cherished and feared at the same time. Because of instantaneous communications and modern technology, it was a physically limited attack that nonetheless managed to make every American feel like a direct target. Across the length and breadth of our nation, in both cities and small towns and with ripples around the world, thousands of flights were grounded, buildings evacuated, school children sent home, bridges closed and bases sealed. Offices, malls and restaurants were empty for days, some for weeks. The event dealt a lasting blow to our national psyche, as for years after, on Sep 11, many people chose to not even venture out of their homes or go to places like Times Square or the Statue of Liberty; anything which might be a target.

But when it happened, and as the shock wore off, we as Americans responded as we always do: with patriotism, dedication, and self-sacrifice. In spite of all our internal squabbling, rhetoric in the media and scandals ranging from petty to the extreme, we once again brought forth an attribute which, when it emerges, gains us the admiration and envy of the rest of world: that Americans are at their best when things are at their worst.


About stoshk

Career military member, and for many years a registered Independent. I'm not a particularly type-A personality, and believe people can disagree on a topic while still being respectful of each other's opinion - everything doesn't have to be a "you're either with me or against me" philosophy. I DON'T believe everything is black or white, I DO believe most rules have exceptions, and most situations have to be judged on their own merit rather than following a blanket "party line." I DO believe that while elected officials do represent their districts and constituents, they also have an obligation to act for the greater good of the nation as a whole, and leadership should be by example, not a "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. I started this blog because I've reached a point where I feel many aspects of local, regional, national and global life are just plain disgusting me and I needed someplace to vent, and I've had enough positive feedback about the letters, notes and commentary on various subjects that I've posted to friends through email and/or social media that I thought this might be worth it - at least to me. Any and all comments, writings and postings in the blog are solely my opinion and absolutely do not represent the views of the U.S. Government and/or the Department of Defense.
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