I remember where I was when the towers were hit.
I woke that morning to confused commotions in Edwards Hall. I wandered into my neighbor’s room to find him glued to the television. Dazed, he told me what happened.
Like everyone else, I could not believe the sight before me.
A lot has happened since that day.
Notwithstanding the current war, America has wiped away the tears, rebuilt itself and eventually gotten on with life. Yet, have we forgotten what transpired that day? Have we forgotten the lessons that were taught and are still being taught today?
Here is what we should have learned since then.
For starters, America is safer than it was prior to 9/11.
This is evidenced by the fact that we have not been attacked since. Threats have failed to materialize.
America has done the things necessary to protect itself from Islamofascism.
They may have given us a black eye that day, but we have since broken their backs.
Osama bin Laden, after the fall of the Taliban, slithered back into his cave, and has been on the run ever since. Terror networks have been destroyed and their assets frozen.
The steps taken have been costly, however.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died. Freedoms have been revisited, reevaluated, and even put on hold.
Yet, this has been America’s pattern during times of war where protection is the goal.
Second, we are faced with an enemy that will not quit.
Unlike in wars past, there will be no armistice or treaty negotiations.
Death does not strike fear in the hearts of these zealots. How can we engage in diplomacy with people that do not know the meaning of compromise?
Bon fires at Camp David and Kumbaya do not work with radicals who seek our annihilation.
It’s hard to negotiate with people who consider it their religious duty to attack and kill us. The best solution is a military solution.
As seen in Afghanistan, once the opposition is put down, diplomacy and democracy can and will prevail.
Third, this is a war of civilizations.
Bin Laden’s latest video put away any notion otherwise. In it he called for Americans to liberate themselves from the “shackles, deception, and attrition” of capitalism.
Six years ago, Al Qaeda attacked American symbols, namely capitalist prosperity, military might, and democracy. Doing so, they did not discriminate between soldier and civilian, guilty and innocent. They attacked the whole.
He also calls for our conversion to Islam, citing it as one way to end the war.
There is nothing wrong with embracing a religion. However, it must be at one’s own terms. There is no sincerity in choosing conversion at gun point.
Ultimately, the recent surge must continue. If we succeed in securing Iraq, we have the potential to turn the tides of war.
Al Qaeda’s presence there and recent statements by bin Laden concerning the Arab nation should only serve to stoke the fires of our resolve. There may be too many disconnects, things may not be going as planed, but prematurely pulling the plug on this project will not end well.
We may never see the outcome of this fight.
The light at the end of the tunnel of this war is very dim. Iraq and Afghanistan are but battles in a war that will last as long as there are people who are driven by a hatred for our way of life.
Life will move on. And we must get on with it.
But we must never forget how we get to where it takes us and the lessons learned along the way.
Joseph Haynie is a senior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org