Watching the 20-year anniversary coverage of the 9-11 terrorist attacks brought back a day to remember! Just before I was beginning to speak on managing change to Verizon leaders in Niagara Falls, I was handed a note. It read simply, “A plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers.” The executive whispered to me, “We’re going to have to cancel. We are one of the principal carriers in New York City. We have to get our people back to the city.” By the time we had left the meeting room and entered the lobby, we saw the second plane fly into the second tower. We all knew that this was no accident. America was under attack.
That day remains somewhat of a blur, but it was the rest of the week that would me something about the strength of a united America. After talking with my wife, I left Niagara Falls for the Days Inn in Buffalo to be close to the airport. I knew the planes were grounded, but when they were free to fly, I wanted to be one of the first to fly West. I was not the only one stranded and away from home that day.
There were two major groups stuck in that hotel with me as we watched the tragedy unfold. There was a large teen choral group and a reunion of World War II Navy veterans. Under normal circumstances neither would be likely to talk to one another. But the young men soon realized they might be called into a war. Fearful, they asked the men what war was like. The men had stories to tell, and the young men were primed to listen.
Tired of sitting in the hotel, I went for a run. I stopped at a stand on the road selling American flags. I bought a big one to take back with me. As I ran back to the hotel, the flag waved from my side. Cars began honking, and I felt compelled to raise the flag higher. As I ran by a nearby hospital, I saw a long line of local citizens lined up to give blood, not realizing that there were not enough survivors that would need transfusions. They applauded as I ran with my flag.
Back in the hotel, we watched as President George W. Bush addressed the country and promised action against those responsible, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” When the President flew to New York City and visited Ground Zero, he visited, wept, and prayed with the families of victims. As he tried to address the crowd, some shouted, “We can’t hear you!” Bush shouted back a message we were ready to hear, “I can hear you!…The rest of the world hears you…and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
The 9/11 attacks gave the Bush administration a clear focus–Keep the American people safe at home and defeat terrorism abroad. That meant military action abroad and defensive measures at home. Within two decades, the terrorists were at bay and Afghanistan was no longer a haven for terrorism. Even earlier this year, with air support and 2,500 of our fighting men and women, Afghani troops were able to keep the Taliban and the terrorists at bay.
But now, on the 20th anniversary of that day, we took time to honor the 3,000 lost in the attacks. But I fear that we are failing to remember what nineteen committed terrorists can do to bring havoc to this country we love. Of even more concern, we have a current administration that has actually made it more likely that America will experience more terrorist attacks.
Yes, most Americans wanted our soldiers out of Afghanistan. No one likes war, but citizens tend to forget that we have soldiers strategically positioned in countries around the world to promote peace and secure military advantage against very capable enemies. Unfortunately, the recent actions by the Biden administration make us weaker, not stronger.
Initiating a poorly planned exit from Afghanistan, President Biden allowed the Taliban to overcome the Afghan military. Without our air support and knowing there was a firm exit date for our military, the Taliban easily took control of Kabul and the entire country in a matter of days.
As a result, President Biden has been left with having to plead with the Taliban for the release of what American citizens remain. Those that do remain are potential hostages to the Taliban and terrorists in the area who wish us harm.
In addition, there is no knowing how many terrorists have taken advantage of President Biden’s open border policy at our porous Southern border. Terrorists of the world must be salivating at the opportunities they now have. They have a haven for their treachery in liberated Afghanistan. They have a ready supply of some of our most sophisticated weapons to carry out any planned attacks. They have an administration committed to open borders which allows potential terrorists to join the throng of illegal immigrants streaming into America.
Taking a strong stand against terrorists does not seem to be a priority with President Biden. When our soldiers were still in Afghanistan working to get citizens and Afghans onto the planes to leave, President Biden was asked to give his permission to use a drone to take out an identified terrorist ready to detonate his explosives, but he refused to act. Thirteen of our soldiers and many Afghan citizens were killed by that attack.
Yes, we must those who we lost on 9/11, but we need leaders who take seriously the danger of today’s potential terrorists like the ones who attacked us that day. To be kind, I know our President has weakened capacities that seem more and more evident. But we know that an organization will always be limited by its weakest link. It is tough when America’s weakest link is its President. Pray for our country and for leadership to rise to the challenge of this increasingly dangerous age in which we live.
Sources: TownHall: A Day to Remember…Terrorists Never to Forget