Friday, September 11, 2009
I choose to remember 9/11. Eight years ago this morning, on September 11, 2001, I was in the Pentagon. I was at Staff Call in an office on C Ring between Corridors 5 and 6. Shortly after sitting down, we were jarred as American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building. My friend who was with me swears that he heard jet engines accelerating before impact. Those I was with and I evacuated safely through the smoke, dust, and debris outside of our office door. I remember that several hundred feet from where I sat, Brigadier General Maude was in his E Ring office. He was being briefed by three Booze-Allen contractors. His office was very near the point of impact. All four occupants perished. I remember that two secretaries were taking a smoke break in the area between B and C ring. One had just flicked her Bic to light up when the right engine came crashing through C ring. Her first thought was that she had caused an explosion. Both she and her companion evacuated safely with a true story to tell the grandchildren. Remember. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Roosevelt proclaimed it to be a day that would forever live in infamy. We were outraged as a nation, and, for the next four years, our battle cry in the Pacific was "Remember Pearl Harbor!" Black and white images of wreckage burning, and the tower of the Battleship Arizona silhouetted against a cloud of black smoke fueled our outrage and strengthened our national resolve to achieve victory. September 11, 2001 is no less than December 7, 1941 a day that will live forever in infamy. Yet one year afterward, images of the twin towers burning were deemed "too disturbing" to be shown on the evening news. Now, eight years later, our national resolve to triumph can barely be detected. Have we forgotten the images of our fellow citizens casting themselves from the towers rather than burn up inside? Have we forgotten our obligation to those who perished? Remember. Remember that these attacks were evil and be angry. Remember that on September 11, 2001 our nation was attacked without cause. Be angry that , unlike Pearl Harbor, these attacks were mostly directed not against our military but against innocent and unsuspecting civilians. Remember that on September 11, 2001 we were peaceful and secure. Be angry at those who took our peace and security from us. Be very angry at those who forced us now to live in perpetual distrust and wariness. Remember that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were evil acts perpetrated by evil men with evil intent. Be angry at the perpetrators and those who support them. Be resolved to defeat them and everything they stand for. Remember that we owe a solemn obligation to those who perished. Be angry at those who would reduce what should be a day of solemn remembrance and renewed resolution into a day of service similar to Earth Day or Arbor Day. Be angry and resolve to oppose those who continue to plan acts of evil against our nation and our freedom. Resolve to oppose them until your last breath. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Remember 9/11. Be angry and maintain your anger. Resolve with me that evil will never be allowed to triumph.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
My Dad always took a somewhat dim view of Labor Day. Falling at the peak of the tobacco harvest, Labor Day happens during the season of maximum effort in the fields and tobacco barns. Housing tobacco is not a task that can be easily accomplished by one person. Dad's view of Labor Day was made no brighter by the fact that on the day after all of his teen aged helpers would disappear into the bowels of the education system and become unavailable except for the hours between school and dark. Most of Dad's helpers, my friends, were also unavailable on Labor Day as they did things with their families who were not tobacco growers. I wanted to be like my friends. Dad's answer to my requests for Labor Day off was always the same. "Labor Day means it's a day extra hard labor." And, although we usually quit early so I could be ready for school the next morning, we spent most of the day working hard. Over the years, I have come to realize that Dad was right even if I'm still not sure that the best way to celebrate Labor day is by working. Labor Day should celebrate work. Labor -- work -- is required for human survival. And, whether we choose to admit it or not, labor -- work -- is also required for human fulfilment. If God created Man and placed him in the garden "to dress it and to keep it," then we are made to work. Scripture tells us that work did not become a burden until man sinned and, in punishment, God cursed the ground so that it would produce its fruit only as a result hard work. "By the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread," He said. So this Labor Day, I choose to celebrate work -- the work I do and all of the honourable and productive work that other people do. Work: it's part of a full life. "This is the Gospel of labor. Peal forth, ye bells of the Kirk! For the Lord of Love Came down from above To live with men who work. And this is the seed that He planted, Here in this thorn-curs'd soil. Heaven is blessed with eternal rest; The blessing of life is toil." Have a great Labor Day. Celebrate work!