Sunday, September 9, 2018

September 11 - What Real Sacrifice Looks Like

September 11 - What Real Sacrifice Looks Like
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 9, 2018

September 11 falls, yet again, on a Tuesday, just as it had in 2001. The day started out as a picture-perfect peaceful, bucolic day - bright sunshine, puffy, innocent white clouds - only to be permeated by death, destruction, devastation, and terrorism.

While the pre-ordained intent of the 19 Islamic extremist terrorists became clear upon impact, and the loss of human life intentional - male and female, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, the nearly 3,000 slaughtered became the first casualties of the current war on terrorism.

A brief timeline of the harrowing events of September 11, 2001:

Between 7:59 AM and 8:42 AM four flights take off from Boston’s Logan, Washington’s Dulles, and Newark airports, each headed for Los Angeles except the Newark flight, headed to San Francisco.

8:46 AM: American Airlines flight #11 is flown into #1 World Trade Center - the North Tower - by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the 11 crew, 76 passengers and hundreds inside the tower instantly. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

9:03 AM: United Airlines flight #175 is flown into #2 World Trade Center - the South Tower - by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the nine crew, 51 passengers, and hundreds inside the tower instantly. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

9:05 AM: President George W. Bush is alerted to what is now believed to be terrorist attacks. “Terrorism against our nation will not stand,” said Bush.

9:37 AM: American Airlines flight #77 is flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, VA by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the six crew, 53 passengers, as well as 125 military and civilian personnel on the ground. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

9:59 AM: The South Tower collapses in 10 seconds after burning 56 minutes. More than 800 civilians and first responders are murdered. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

10:03 AM: United Airlines flight #93 crashes into a field in Shanksville, PA when passengers and crew storm the cockpit. There are no survivors of the seven crew and 33 passengers due to the murderous plot by the four Muslim extremist hijackers. Flight #93 was 20 minutes from Washington, DC where the White House and/or the Capitol Building were the presumed targets. This is an example of intended sacrifice - heroism, in fact, knowingly sacrificing their lives in an effort to prevent thousands more from perishing should that plane had reached its intended target.

10:15 AM: The damaged section of the Pentagon E-Ring collapses.

10:28 AM: The North Tower collapses after burning 102 minutes. More than 1,600 civilians and first responders are murdered. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

5:20 PM: World Trade Center #7 collapses. The 47 story building had already been evacuated and no fatalities are reported.

8:30 PM: President George W. Bush addresses the nation.

The sacrifices made by the nearly 3,000 victims, intended or unintended, are supreme - they are lost to us forever except in our memories and the memorials in New York City, Arlington, VA, and Shanksville, PA. Having grown up in the shadows of the original World Trade Center, it had been more than a decade since visiting, until this summer when my wife, daughter, and I finally made it to One World Trade Center to see the new tower and the memorials where we could pay respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice - family friends like Lee Adler.

While thousands of people were naturally fleeing the scenes of the terrorist attacks in efforts to save themselves, there were hundreds of first responders moving just as deftly toward the falling towers, toward the burning Pentagon attempting to rescue total strangers from all walks of life without asking about their backgrounds, religious beliefs, ethnic origins, or sexual orientation. These men and women also made the supreme sacrifice - many of whom never made it home to their families.

Additionally, there are multitudes of first responders who, 17 years later, are suffering from myriad cancers related to toxic dust from the terror sites in New York City and Arlington. For those still in these dire circumstances, they should visit the Victims Compensation Fund website: 

When the stories of the suffering endured by the people who made genuine sacrifice are recalled, I find it more than just insulting that a football player should be made the face of a sneaker company with the tagline: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” 

This ballplayer has sacrificed nothing. He made a decision to grandstand by refusing to stand for the National Anthem of the United States in an effort to bring attention to an issue of concern to him. Most people remember him taking a knee, but not the reason for doing so, thus defeating the purpose. Had this player requested space in any newspaper in the country for the purposes of an editorial, it would have been granted.

I am a fervent supporter of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and that free speech is the bellwether of the success of this country. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” credited to Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868-1956), speaks volumes and I agree with it strongly. I think players who take a knee are wrong for doing it, and I don’t have to buy the products they endorse, but it is still their right, however misguided, to do so. However, let the consequences fall where they may. 

Opine before the media - give interviews, write editorials - attention will be paid, and agree or disagree, your rights will most certainly be defended. Taking a knee is a publicity stunt that is offensive to those who served and continue to serve - some of whom are unable to stand or take a knee because of the genuine sacrifices they have made.

Now, apparently, this particular player is suing his former league for collusion. Bottom line, if he were a quality player, he would be in uniform today. There are many players, unfortunately, who have committed felonies and are still playing pro ball. No, he has sacrificed nothing, and now he is being rewarded for his petulance.

In addition to remembering the sacrifices made by those who died on September 11, and in the subsequent battles, we must also maintain our faith. I offer a selection from Jewish liturgy as this year, September 11, is also the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

“Save us because of Your mercy. Shield us from enemies and pestilence, from starvation, sword, and sorrow. Remove the evil forces that surround us, shelter us in the shadow of Your wings. You O G-d, guard us and deliver us. You are a gracious and merciful King. Guard our coming and our going, grant us life and peace, now and always.”

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He grew up in northern New Jersey in the shadow of the Twin Towers. On September 11, 2001, he was writing for a newspaper in northern Virginia, 10 minutes from the Pentagon.

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