We never made it out of homeroom. Innocent faces beaming with light are a bit dimmer now. Glued to the television as children oft are, but there are no cartoons. Our jovial nature quenched, as we are forced to find solace in a vacuum bursting with pain. Hellfire is on our heels. Can you feel it? Can you feel the flame singing your soul? Would we too, be engulfed in the flames? Life meant a little bit more and a little bit less that day. Loved ones, still processing and unsure themselves, tried to explain the unexplainable. Thousands of lives each taking nine months to create, were gone in an instant. In the aftermath, President George W. Bush like President Roosevelt (after Pearl Harbor), declared war. On the morning afterwards, the Today show hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer provided a most horrific analysis. By now the “shot had been heard around the world.” In the days to come we watched from the comfort of our homes, as the United States Air Force bombed Afghanistan. After Afghanistan our military engaged in an Iraqi offensive. This was all done in the name of combating terrorism. Our world was changed forever.
The War on Terror. For 14 years we have been fighting a war against terrorism. Since I was a young boy sitting in homeroom living a nightmare, I have learned a lot about this war. America did not win, will not win and cannot win, nor will Iraq or Afghanistan. The terrorists, whether you call them Al-Qaeda or ISIS cannot win this war. The only winner in the War on Terror is terror itself. I have learned that violence is a cycle. It begets itself, and those who drink of its poisonous waters become the very thing they fight. Who is a terrorist? That answer is subjective. There was a child in Iraq who saw their home being bombed in 2003. Did he say, “I am glad we’re being bombed; America is finding the terrorist?” No, in all likelihood our bombing created more “terrorist” than it exterminated.
If I were President Bush, would I have done anything different? Would you? Even in hindsight that is a difficult question to answer. I leave you with a quote to consider. From Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans:
“Anybody know what this place is? This is Gettysburg. This is where they fought the Battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fightin’ the same fight that we’re still fightin’ amongst ourselves today.
This green field right here was painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys, smoke and hot lead pourin’ right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men:
‘I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family.’”
When we die will there be 72 virgins waiting for us? Will we go to a promised land with streets of gold, our names written in the book of life? Or will see the people our malice destroyed? Pain is inevitable. But after pain, we have a choice to pick up hate or love. For 14 years I have seen my share of hate. Maybe it’s time we tried love.