Tag Archives: 9/11

‘The Mayor’ has fallen farthest

It was striking to me as I watched the nation commemorate the 22nd year since the 9/11 attacks that one man was missing from all the ceremonies we saw.

At Ground Zero. At the Pentagon. At the field in Shanksville, Pa. Dignitaries noted the tragedy that befell the nation. They saluted the first responders. The spoke to the unity that brought Americans of all political stripes together.

Who was missing from all of this? The man we once hailed as “America’s Mayor,” Rudolph Giuliani has become persona non grata.

The more I think about it, the more I am left to conclude that no political figure has fallen farther and more dramatically than Giuliani in the 22 years since he burst on the American political scene simply by being a man of strength and dignity trying to rally New York City from the wreckage brought by the terrorists.

He would become Time’s Person of the Year in 2001 … and with great reason. He stood like a colossus over rubble where the Twin Towers once stood. Americans looked to him to provide strength that would feed the rest of us.

America’s Mayor delivered … in spades.

Now, though, he has become a ridiculous caricature of himself. He stands with a former POTUS who lost the 2020 election and proclaims that he actually won it. Giuliani has been indicted by federal and state grand juries. He is in danger of losing his law license.

Do I pity him? Do I lament his fall from the nation’s grace? Not for a second. The man made his choice willingly and I’ll presume with a clear head.

Given all the chaos that he engenders these days it would be the depth of folly for him to appear publicly to take part in events designed to remember the horrendous event that handed him the opportunity to stand tall.

America’s Mayor has become America’s Joke.

Time doesn’t heal this pain

They say that “time heals” damn near all emotional pain. I’m not sure about that.

We are commemorating the 9/11 attack on our nation today. Twenty-two years ago, Islamic terrorists hijacked jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center’s towers, into the Pentagon and then — after fighting with the passengers aboard a fourth jetliner — crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa.

All the times I have watched the horrendous video of that day, witnessing all the carnage, the panic and chaos and I still well up when I gaze on what happened that day.

Indeed, it seems to worsen with time, not the reverse.

The event has spurred me to thank firefighters and police officers when I see them going about their usual day. I have done the same to ambulance drivers, EMTs and paramedics. They all represent a segment of our society that rushed toward the danger when it exploded in front of us on 9/11.

We’ll never forget that horrendous day … and may it always bring back the pain we felt in the moment.

Elvis is still dead!

Yesterday marked an event that is burned indelibly into my memory and for the life of me I cannot explain precisely why.

I walked into a convenience store in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 16, 1977 to make a purchase of some kind. I looked down at The Oregonian news rack that carried the early edition of the next day’s paper and saw the headline in big, bold type:

“Elvis Presley dead at 42”

What the … ? 

Hey, you know that moment has to rank right with other seminal moments in my life and in the life of Planet Earth. We know where we were when President Kennedy was gunned down, when the shuttle Challenger exploded, when 9/11 occurred, when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

What’s more, I remember my first kiss (and the girl’s name), the first time I laid eyes on the woman I would marry, the day the Army summoned me for service, the first time I heard the greatest song ever recorded, “Hey Jude.”

And when we learned that the King of Rock ‘n Roll had passed on.

He was a young man. I can barely remember my 42nd year in this world which, I suppose, makes me an old man. I get it. That’s because I am!

My wife and I visited Graceland a few years ago. We got a glimpse of how Elvis lived. I look back on that visit now and nod in understanding how it was that he was gone at such a tender age.

Rest in eternal peace, Elvis.

They’re all heroes

I have been receiving a real-time lesson in how heroes do their jobs and how they continue to perform at the highest levels while maintaining smiles on their faces and kindness in their hearts.

These are the medical professionals who have been tending to my bride since the day after Christmas when she reported to the emergency room to determine the cause of her loss of balance. The initial news was stunning: a tumor was pressuring her brain. Most of the tumor is gone.

We took her to the Medical City/McKinney hospital about 15 or so minutes away from our home in Princeton.

And for the past several days we have borne witness to some of the most astonishing displays of compassion and alertness I only have been able to imagine … until now.

I told a young nurse, Bradley, that “I could not possibly do your job.” He laughed and described himself as a classic “type A” individual who, I should add, is married to a woman who he described as being an equally type A person, which he acknowledges brings some interesting conflicts in their home. “But, hey, all marriages have ’em, right?” he said.

These heroes occasionally get the recognition they deserve. The 9/11 catastrophe told the world of their heroism. Time and again through one disaster after another, these men and women deliver service to the public that only a select few of us can replicate. I am not one of them.

Thus, I stand in awe as I watch these individuals at Medical City/McKinney take meticulous care of my dear bride as she begins her fight to recover fully.

I just feel the need to thank them publicly. Their kindness will stay with me forever … and beyond


Deception destroyed our unity

Communities across the land took time over the weekend to honor the heroes who answered the call on 9/11 and some folks spoke about the unity we felt in responding to the terrorists who inflicted so much pain on this great country.

The unity didn’t last, which naturally drew sighs of frustration among many Americans.

I want to remind us of what destroyed our national unity. It was deception from the highest office in the land.

President Bush stood on the rubble at Ground Zero and told the terrorists that they would “hear from all of us soon.” We went to war against the Taliban, drove them out of power in Afghanistan. It was a noble cause, as we had to fight the bad guys directly.

Then we took our eyes off the ball. The president talked about the “axis of evil” that included the government in Baghdad. Then the vice president, Dick Cheney, and the secretary of state, Colin Powell, told us how Saddam Hussein had a hand in the 9/11 attack, how he possessed terrible “weapons of mass destruction” and would use them against us and our allies.

In March 2003, barely 18 months after 9/11, we went to war against Iraq. With that action, we kissed our national unity goodbye.

Our eternal gratitude for the police officers, firefighters and medical teams remains strong. Their raw courage in fighting the evils of a terrorist act will remain with us for as long as those of us who remember that time will walk this good Earth.

Let us not conflate the poor decisions born of deception with that admiration.


No worries, I will ‘never forget’

I went to a ceremony this morning at Princeton City Hall where firefighters, police officers, local veterans and others gathered to recall the event that shaped our nation’s future.

It happened 21 years ago when hijacked jetliners flew into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and into that rural field in Shanksville, Pa.

No. We’ll never forget what we were doing that morning when we got the news about the terror attack on the country. It launched the global war against terrorism, a war we likely will fight for as long as Planet Earth exists.

I am sure the planet will be around long after you and I are gone.

We call it 9/11 these days. Just say “9/11” and everyone knows what you mean.

The good news is that our special forces have managed to take out the masterminds behind that attack. The bad news is that others have skulked out of the slime to replace them.

We must remain vigilant against threats that have existed all along.

And by all means we must “never forget” the unfathomable cost of what happens when we look the other way.


If only he hadn’t lied

This makes me so mad I could just spit. Dick Cheney came to his daughter’s defense with a stellar argument that called Donald John Trump a “coward” who “lies to his supporters.”

The former vice president of the United States said a “real man” wouldn’t lie the way Trump does.

Of course he is right! I would be leading the cheers for the former VP who served for two terms during George W. Bush’s presidency, except for this little thing. Dick Cheney also is a liar.

I don’t say this with any sort of cavalier attitude. I want the former veep’s ad to sway voters to his daughter’s corner as she battles for re-election to the U.S. House seat that her father occupied before taking on the job of White House chief of staff for President Ford.

Dick Cheney, though, spooned up a major dose of snake oil when George W. Bush became president. He persuaded the president that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, chemicals that it would use against us. He also told us that Saddam Hussein — the late Iraqi dictator — played a role in the 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York City. Neither allegation was true.

We went to war with Iraq in March 2003 and lost nearly 5,000 American lives in the process. And for what purpose? To retaliate for lies conveyed by the then-vice president and others within the Bush administration.

This is the kind of thing that sticks to people’s backsides. It’s indelible. No matter how much Dick Cheney might pretend to be a man of high honor and integrity — who tells the truth all the time — we cannot deny that he lied about WMD and the culprits behind 9/11.

I just wish Liz Cheney could have found another ally to launch this attack on Donald Trump.


Avoid victory declaration

It is tempting to declare victory and call it all good now that the latest international terrorist leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been blown to smithereens.

Just as it was tempting to do the same when the SEAL team shot Osama bin Laden between the eyes in May 2011, or when commandos took out Islamic State honcho Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019.

President Biden ordered the drone strike that killed the latest al-Qaeda leader — al-Zawahiri — as he stood on the porch of his house in Kabul, Afghanistan.

But let’s be clear: Many of us warned that there would be other leaders to step forward to succeed bin Laden, al-Baghdadi and now al-Zawahiri.

The war against international terror will be on-going. We must remain alert, vigilant and ready to respond to any threats that present themselves. That is what President Joe Biden pledged we would do when he ended our troop involvement in Afghanistan in 2021.

The “over the horizon” hit on al-Zawahiri demonstrated our nation’s astonishing capability to find and dispatch international terrorists. What’s more, this hit was carried out reportedly with zero collateral casualties. 

These kinds of opportunities don’t present themselves every day. When they do, we must be prepared to take full advantage of them … which is what occurred this past weekend.

The fight must go on.


Biden ‘speaks his mind’?

Michael Kinsley, the liberal columnist and one-time TV commentator, once famously quipped that a “gaffe” occurs when a politician “speaks his mind.”

So it is, then, that President Biden well might have been speaking his own mind when during a speech in Poland he said that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”

Oops, Mr. President. You’ve just spoken against U.S. policy, which supposedly forbids any effort to bring about “regime change” in a foreign government. Oh, but wait! Didn’t we do that when we went to war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and then went to war in Iraq less than two years later while hunting down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein?

Both those efforts resulted in regime change. The Taliban, though, are back in power in Afghanistan; Saddam Hussein is dead, having been hanged for his crimes against humanity.

The White House is trying to take back what President Biden said, that our aim isn’t to remove Putin from office even as we condemn him for launching his illegal, immoral and illogical invasion of Ukraine.

I am not going to sweat much about what the president said. He was telling us what he thinks ought to happen, not necessarily predicting that it will happen.


You must see this TV broadcast

Forgive me for shilling for a TV show. I can’t resist the urge to do so.

“60 Minutes” premiered its new season tonight by telling a single story during the course of its hourlong broadcast.

It told the story of heroism on 9/11. The heroes were the firefighters who answered the call when the jetliners flew into the Twin Towers.

If you are able to watch it On Demand, I encourage you to do so.

CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed many surviving firefighters, children of those who died in the chaos, colleagues of those who perished. They all told the same story. The firefighters who died when the towers collapsed did so because they were faithful to their oath to “protect and serve” the public.

These men and women accounted for 343 deaths on 9/11, the number of New York City firefighters who died because they ran into the flaming buildings.

It was a compelling news report on arguably the most compelling event of the 21st century.

If you can, I urge you to watch it. All of it. Moreover, be prepared to swallow hard.