Honor the Heroes of 9/11 and Get Our Nation Back on Track

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I’ve been away from here for a while.  But there is no better day to return than today, the 11th anniversary of that September morning that so suddenly, so violently, changed our America.  I listened today to various radio talk stations that replayed their original broadcasts from that terrible morning.  Their shock, their attempts not to waver, their utter disbelief.  And their words whisked me, and I am sure so many others, back to that terrible morning with them, when, despite our valiant efforts to deny what we were seeing, we knew we would be forever changed.  I just never would have imagined the nature of that change.

We all seemed so cohesive that morning, and the mornings that followed, sharing our grief and our identity as Americans, united in the wake of an attack that none of us could have imagined when we rose that morning to greet the day.  Eleven years have passed, and now I — and I believe so many of my fellow Americans — find ourselves saddled, for some unfathomable reason, with a president who refuses to use the word “terrorist.”  A president who, as the leader of his party, tries to terrify Americans into voting for him by claiming Americans on the right are hellbent on revoking birth control and the right to vote from American women. A president who, failing to notice a hot mike, promised Russia that once he gets re-elected he can be more “flexible” in his negotiations with other, often hostile, nations.  A president who refuses to meet with the leader of Israel in favor of an appearance on Letterman’s late-night talk show.  A president with no business experience whatsoever — even experience working a cash register at a local fast-food joint.   A president who uses our military as backdrops for photo-ops and whose administration has been riddled with scandalous cover-ups, as well as national-security leaks designed to fuel his re-election.  A president who, as a state senator, voted repeatedly to deny medical care to a baby who happens to survive an abortion.  A president who admits he spent a good deal of his formative high-school years in a drug-induced fog (gotta wonder, then, how he got into all those high-falutin’ schools on his “resume”).  A president who has repeatedly bowed to world leaders and apologized for America….I’m sorry, this list is simply far too lengthy to include here in its entirety, but we all get the drill.

It’s just downright shocking and unbelievable that, given the events of that September morning 11 years ago, we find ourselves in this particular American universe today.  My hopes for change on this September 11th, with the election less than 60 days away, is that we the people will fix all this on November 6th.  That we will right the mis-calculations of the years that followed the shock of 9/11 and get our nation back on the path it is meant to follow.  The path that has been its destiny since our founders risked their lives and the lives of their families by committing the ultimate act of treason, dedicating themselves not to tyranny, but to independence and liberty, creating the most miraculous nation the world has ever known.  Let’s roll.

Miracle in Chile

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There was not a dry eye in our house last night when the first of the 33 miners stuck underground for the last 69 days in Chile was brought to the surface in a narrow rescue capsule barely large enough to carry a child.  Nor was there a dry eye tonight when the last of those miners, Shift Foreman Luis Urzua, exited the rescue capsule to cheers, applause and silent prayers of thanks.  The heroism on display in Chile since these men were trapped more than two months ago, which has culminated over the past 24 hours as the world watched their rescue, can be described only as a testament to the human spirit.

Tonight we celebrate the efforts of engineers, paramedics, psychologists, physicians, NASA scientists, excavation experts and everyone in between, as 33 miners, feared dead for the first 17 days of their captivity, emerged from their underground prison. Tonight we reflect on the amazing stories of men, who, under the leadership of Shift Foreman Urzua, who took matters into their own hands, rationed their supplies, never gave up hope, and refused to go down without a fight.  We hear of true unadulterated heroism and courage in the rescue workers who volunteered 24 hours ago to take the rescue capsule down into the mine to prepare the miners for their pending rescue.  And tonight we witness Chile’s President, Sebastian Pinera, with tears in his eyes, sing his nation’s national anthem, then offer spontaneous, heartfelt words of praise to the rescuers, to the miners, and to his God for the miracle his nation celebrates tonight – and all without a teleprompter.

As a side note, I thank Fox News for giving this story, this miracle, the full-court coverage it so richly deserves.  Apparently their competition did not find it so worthy, the other cable news outlets deeming Michael Moore, Tea Party anger, eating disorders and celebrity breakups more important than the arrival of the last miner at the surface.

As for those of us who find such programming choices disgraceful, our prayers go out to the rescue workers still underground, who risked their lives over the last 24 hours to help the miners reach daylight once more. May they, too, reach the surface soon and safely, and know the awe they have inspired with their heroism. The same goes for the miners they helped rescue. We wish them the best in their recovery from their ordeal, and we thank them for reminding us that miracles do happen.

We Will Never Forget

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“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?”

I awoke this morning with these words from Alan Jackson on my radio, my country station featuring such songs as Jackson’s “Where Were You” to commemorate this day, September 11th.

I know where I was. We all know where we were. And though there are some in this country with screeching voices and amplified microphones who would rather we forget, we won’t. Ever.

And that is why the vast, vast majority of Americans, all Americans, never dreamed that nine years after that September day, we would be arguing not over the design of the buildings that should replace the Twin Towers, but the building of a mosque upon the sacred ground where the Twin Towers once stood.

The opposition hurls names at this majority of Americans who wish to keep that ground, and the remains of the thousands of souls lost on that ground, sacred. They scream that we are anti-this, anti-that, phobic-this, phobic-that, and, most laughably, they claim we are un-American. For this instance and this instance only, the fundamentally frightened appeasers haul out the Constitution, claiming we who oppose the plan are defying our founders’ intent – and, most importantly, placing ourselves in grave danger.

From politicians to media hacks to talk show hosts, the politically correct ignore pleas to investigate the shady funding behind the project (which, if terror-rooted, would throw the whole “freedom of religion” argument out the window), pleading instead in so many words that if we don’t do this, if we don’t obey, they’ll hurt as again. And indeed, more than one imam has declared publicly, one on national television: If you don’t build it on that site, on that ground, where we say it must go, more attacks will follow.

The left, including the President of the United States, has heeded such threats, and, with the help of New York City’s mayor, New York’s leading candidate for Governor, various New York Congresspeople, leftwing media outlets and formerly funny late night talk-show hosts, they are trying desperately to obey the edict.

The only trouble is, we the people are not so obedient. We know conquest when we see it. We know that the same people pleading the mosque’s case would be singing a different tune if the targets on that September day had instead been Rockefeller Center or the Ed Sullivan Theater. We also happen to be far more familiar than they with our Constitution and our founders’ intent. We believe good and evil exist in this world, we believe in right and wrong, and, above all, we remember where we were when the world stopped turning on that September day. So, no, we won’t obey. And we won’t forget. Ever.

Memorial Day 2010

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Three months or so after September 11, 2001, the day we witnessed a devastating attack by radical Islamic terrorists on our nation, I went to Ground Zero in New York City. As my friend, a native New Yorker, and I walked from Greenwich Village to Lower Manhattan, we could feel it in the air, growing more palpable, more intense, the closer we got to the site of America’s collective loss. Call it a sensation, an aura, the footprint of the souls who were taken from us that day, the “it” to which I refer here is something known only to those who have been to ground we call sacred.

This was not new to me. I felt it at Pearl Harbor. And at Gettysburg, too. I hope someday to experience it at Normandy Beach and that field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The footprint of the souls who left us in sudden fury. The souls of Americans who were taken from us.

I think of that sensation, those footprints, today on the eve of Memorial Day, the day when we honor the countless Americans who have given their lives, either consciously or in sudden unexpected fury, for our country. I honor as we all must the blood they shed for us, for our children, for the preservation of this extraordinary experiment we call home. And, though my words seem so feeble in comparison, I thank those extraordinary Americans for what they have done for us.

Our nation today is once again traveling treacherous territory. This time we are encountering threats perhaps not so overt as those we encountered on that day in December of 1941 or on the bloody battlefields of our nation’s terrible Civil War or on those beaches in France so far from home – threats that are thus probably even more treacherous because of that. So I think of that famous passage I would hope every American has heard and should embrace. To paraphrase, it reminds us that it is not the reporter or the lawyer or the politician or the preacher or the community organizer who gives us our precious freedoms, freedoms unique and extraordinary in all the world. No, we have only one individual and one individual alone to thank for those precious freedoms. The American soldier.

I for one will never forget the ultimate sacrifice the American soldier has made for me and mine, nor will I ever forget the ultimate sacrifice that soldier’s family has made for us. Knowing full well the enormity of what that sacrifice means to us all, I remain eternally grateful to that soldier on this Memorial Day and every day. And I pray that every American will join me in this. We must never forget.

Eight Years Ago…

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September 11, 2009 | Comments

It was eight years ago today. And it changed everything. With great humility, I pray, as I do every year on this day of remembrance, for those we lost, and I offer all my gratitude to those who have kept us safe for all these years since.

God, please continue always to bless and protect our America. We will never forget, and we know You won’t forget us.

Betsy Siino | Comments

To Protect and To Serve

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July 30, 2009 | Comments

What a ridiculous day to be an American.

It began on Tuesday with the image broadcast on every news channel of a lone picnic table sitting next to the White House swing set. This was the lucky picnic table chosen as the site of the illustrious “beer summit,” to be hosted by none other than the President of the United States, the celebrated leader of the free world. The camera doesn’t move. The media swoons. Press secretaries and reporters alike report on the beer choices likely to make appearances on the picnic table as seriously as if they are discussing the latest death toll in Afghanistan.

And the world watches. The world laughs. Today we are their fools. Again.

By now we are all plenty familiar with the events that led to this day: Witness sees two men seeming to break into a Cambridge home, witness calls 911, police answer call, police ask for identification from one alleged perpetrator who is a Harvard professor, professor (an African-American) lives in the house, professor cries racism, professor berates police, police officer (not African-American) arrests professor for disorderly contact, charges are dropped, reporter asks question at presidential press conference, president states the police acted “stupidly,” president calls it an obvious example of racial profiling, police cry foul and support sergeant, public cries foul and doesn’t support president….like I said, we all know the story.

So things just got a little out of hand in Cambridge that night, the political/PR/media machine tells us now.  Okay.  But today we made it all better, right? The three men, equally at fault (according to the president and the media, so no apologies necessary, none offered), sat down at what was changed from picnic table to cheesy white patio furniture and have a beer. The president was awarded his much-coveted photo opportunity, the professor footage he can use someday for lectures or documentaries or whatever. The president showed us what a regular guy he is, just having a beer with three other guys (VP Joe joined in, too). He got that regular-guy moment captured on camera, simultaneously mending race relations for all time. I just don’t happen to think the real regular guys out here are going to buy it.

Indeed we “regular guys” have been awarded embarrassment as we witness this lame attempt to mend what has become the president’s personal public-relations nightmare. How I wish Officer Crowley had politely declined the invitation to participate in this awkward spectacle – or at least received an apology. The officer was simply doing his job that night. I trust he left that day for his shift just as he and his brethren do every day, hoping and praying that at the end of the night he would return home, alive and well, to the family waiting for him.

When I was quite young and living in California’s San Fernando Valley, a neighbor came home late one night and saw a suspicious car parked in front of my family’s house. She called the police. When the police arrived the suspicious car took off, as did a suspicious someone who had apparently been hiding in the bushes near the house. I am forever grateful to that neighbor and to the LAPD, and any PD, to whom I would gladly shown my ID if asked. But now in the wake of what the president has called a “teachable moment,” maybe I won’t be asked. Maybe the 9-1-1 call will never even be made in the first place.

And that, perhaps is what we have learned from the president’s “teachable moment,” a term implying we are children, waiting at the hem of his robes for the pearls of wisdom only he can provide. We now know that the president has no intention of admitting that, though he knew nothing of the facts, maybe he had no business injecting himself into local police business. We have also learned to think twice before calling 9-1-1, but I’m still rather unclear about who is doing the teaching here, and who the learning. Explain that to me, would you please. Or, better yet, please don’t. I already know what I need to know.

Betsy Siino | Comments