I haven't blogged in many months, but today is a day that cannot go by without notice. We were attacked by Al Qaeda on that day ten years ago - more specifically by 19 Saudi nationals - and Al Qaeda is still intent on more murderous attacks on our country. Although today's readings at Mass were all about forgiveness, my thoughts were on our servicemen and women who are waging war against Al Qaeda today. May God keep you all safe and may you smite that enemy, and then some. Today seemed like a good day to make a donation to Soldier's Angels, and so I did.
My thoughts and prayers go to all the people who lost family members and cherished friends on that day, and to the almost incomprehensibly brave first responders who perished on that day. My brain still can't wrap around firefighters climbing up into a skyscraper that was a burning inferno of jet fuel, heading up while thousands of people are frantically trying to get out of the burning building. There are no words for that bravery and committment to a higher cause, to the point of losing one's life.
We lost an aspiring firefighter on that day, carpenter Christpher Michael Kirby, then only 21. He was the son of a Bronx firefighter. I first learned about Chris five years ago when I participated in the 2996 project. He sounded like a truly wonderful soul, someone who lightened up the world for everyone around him, who made people laugh and smile. There aren't enough people like that, are there? To have lost "Happy" seems as awful today as it did ten years ago. May his memory and spirit live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him. We can say prayers for the repose of his eternal soul, but my hunch is that God has already put him to use as a guardian angel for others.
The Anchoress has dozens of excellent links today. Never forget, indeed.
P.S. WBZ in Boston has audio of the David Brudnoy show that aired on September 11, 2001. Brudnoy - the "late, legendary WBZ Radio talk-show host" - who died in 2004, is also deeply missed! He has no equal in the talk radio world. Brudnoy wrote a column for FrontPage Magazine only one year after 9/11, and every word in it is true ten years later:
We are living in a continuous state of apprehension, counting the days until the next attack and repeating the now-standard mantra that we will only unite more when — not if, but when — we’re hit again. That we’ll strike even harder, more righteously, and more effectively. We have spent a year failing to synchronize the necessary ideas with the necessary actions. Our borders remain scandalously porous: tuck a suitcase bomb into the truck of your car and drive right in from Canada. We delude ourselves by thinking that a photo ID is proof against evil intent. We allow our e-mails to be invaded by our dubiously named Department of Justice while nests of terrorists undoubtedly continue to thrive in our territory as they do in Europe. We countenance an absurd policy of "random" scrutiny of airplane passengers rather than engage in thoughtful profiling, lest we be accused of racism. Our president spends ample time cozying up to the smarmy representatives of the House of Saud — oil is king — while we require nothing of that monarchy by way of assisting us in locating terrorists. If anything is of use, we eschew it; if something is pointless but looks good on the evening news, we go with it. We have resolved nothing. We have managed to offend those we shouldn’t, like the Israelis, by excluding them entirely from our plans to confront Iraq, but not those we should, like the Pakistani government, which countenances terrorist encampments in its territory, and, again, the Saudis, who mount telethons to fund the families of homicide-bombers in Israel, blatantly giving their imprimatur to terrorism. To fear offending an enemy who took down the two towers of the World Trade Center, drilled a hole through the Pentagon, and left a death pit in Pennsylvania is a strange way to bind the nation’s wounds.
We did not come together after September 11. It wasn’t, even in the most metaphoric and hope-filled sense, "the best of times." It was the worst of times. Not solely because of the death and destruction of that day, but also because of what we’ve become in its aftermath: preposterously maudlin. Ineffectively incendiary. Painfully earnest. Muddled.
We are foolishly polite when we need to be fiercely determined. To give this vaunted "war on terrorism" legitimacy and determination and purpose, we might recall the words of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," written in 1861, during a time of national crisis like none we’ve seen till now. The Civil War was waged to save the republic; today’s war against Islamist terrorism must be waged to save Western civilization. It requires precisely, in Julia Ward Howe’s unparalled image, that "terrible swift sword."