By Curt Middleton
This 11th anniversary marking of the 911 disaster is not anywhere a moment for closure even when taking into consideration that its mastermind perpetrator, Osama bin Laden, now “sleeps with the fishes.”
What an 11th anniversary of the most horrific national, as well as New York tragedy engenders is a pause to commemorate. A pause to remember and a pause to reconsider.
Sure, first of all we commemorate the lives of all lost that fateful day. And, if you just happen to be a New York native like I am, you can’t help but reflect in a personal way what impact this event had upon you, your family and your friends – your home.
On this day, we collectively remember the unbelievable displays of courage. Bravery displayed by survivors, firemen and police officers, medical personnel responding to the scene without question and countless, and most likely many unrecorded, moments of unbelievable acts of courageously brave kindness are brought to our collective consciousness.
Here we are a decade plus one year later and we pause to pay tribute to the resilience of the American people and the New Yorker in particular. Although we easily banter about using the word “hero” quite freely and frequently, 11 years down the road we can also pause to reconsider this very important fact: we pay tribute, we remember, we honor the courageous faith summoned up when ordinary people stare into the face of devastating destruction. Not from a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado. Not from the raging violence found on the battlefields of war. But from the purposeful acts of hate-filled people bent on killing as many Americans as possible who were just going about their ordinary lives on what should have been another ordinary September day in the Big Apple.
I was running a small-town newspaper in southern Oklahoma on Sept. 11, 2001, when one of my reporters called me into the conference room where the TV was loudly proclaiming an airplane just flew into one of the Twin Towers.
First thought was how could some, dumb, private pilot fly his Cessna into the Tower.
Finding out it was a fully loaded commercial jet produced a bit of a sickly feeling somewhere down deep inside of me.
As the day’s events unfolded and other jets began slamming into the other Tower and the Pentagon, I delivered to myself an incredible sensation of fear and dread.
I couldn’t get through by telephone to any relative, friend or colleague in New York for several hours. Like most of America living west of the Hudson, I had to rely on the news reports coming out of New York staring at the television in the conference room begging it to reveal more information.
Fortunately, for me, at that time, no close relatives of mine were lost in the 911 attack. But, the impact of how this attack would visit many American families later was not known 11 years ago, but would one day be felt by my family and me.
Although I will pause to commemorate the lives of all that were dramatically slammed by this terrorist attack 11 years ago, the date will forever stain a dark spot on my heart forever more as well.
To date, Americans have sacrificed greatly in this war against terrorism that ramped up in earnest during post-911 days. Part of that sacrifice has been the deaths of 6,600 U.S. military. This is where the impact from the 911 attacks hits home.
My son is one statistic in those 6,600 deaths since the U.S. responded to the 911 attacks.
Therefore, every 911 anniversary will retrieve memories of my New York…how I knew it pre-911, but the first memory that always will drift into my consciousness each anniversary will be the death of my son, Jason G. Amores, who was killed in action on Jan. 20, 2011 serving with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.
Jason was 20 when the Towers fell. The military was not in his mind at this point in his life. He was married, had one son and lived in Lehigh Acres. But, the attack on 911 led to his enlistment in the Marine Corps that led to that deployment to Afghanistan from where he didn’t return.
Our nation’s response to this despicable act has been a costly one. This response has not changed many minds in the Muslim world when it comes to what they think about Americans. Unlike former WWII foes Germany, Japan and even Italy, the nation should not hold its collective breath believing that our present enemy can be defeated. Unlike WWII, today’s enemy has no national identification…no national borders…no collectively identifiable national ethnicity that can be focused upon.
The War on Terror is probably never-ending…despite the promise troops will be removed from Afghanistan in 2014.
Unfortunately, my family, along with 6,599 others has paid that ultimate sacrifice for a payback that has yet to be cashed in and its value assessed. During the immediate days and several first years following 911, we Americans were so outraged we were willing to pay any price to feel safer and secure…as well as exact a little retribution.
The lesson we have learned now, 11 years later, is the War on Terror may not be a win-able war in the traditional sense we know and, as a continuous and endless conflict fought throughout the world, Americans must learn how to live with a certain level of fear. Plus, that 6,600 number will continue to rise no matter whether troops are stationed in hot-spot troubled Middle Eastern environments or battling potential revisits of the 911 horror.
Human beings killing human beings is nothing new. Only the method changes as mankind supposedly evolves.
So, when Lehigh Acres commemorates and remembers 911, give a thoughtful nod to Jason and all other brave Americans who gave their lives post-911 in sometimes unpronounceable locations a world far away from the familiar comfort of congested traffic on Homestead Road.