I recall for several years after 9/11 the news media was constantly talking about potential terrorist attacks and general threat levels. Do you remember this? You’d see the scroll bar on the television screen informing the viewing public that, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the current threat level was “yellow” or “orange” or “red.” Similarly, I recall on my evening commutes home listening to the car radio that the consistent theme were terrorists, the war on terror, and the palpable sense of heightened danger that we were in. This went on for years. I recall when my first daughter was born in 2002, sitting in our television room up late at night feeding her, alarming stories coming from the media and thinking that the fear of some mass destruction terrorist attack was not unreasonable and that we were totally helpless against it. But, apart from the 2002 bombing of Bali (rest in peace Megan), the terrorists were never really able to do much further damage outside of their own region. Certainly nothing approaching the magnitude or evil of 9/11.
It’s a fact of life that there are always crazy people walking around who look relatively normal but harbor absurd yet articulate notions. Such people may answer the question of why we haven’t been seriously attacked since by saying that Al Qaeda was never that dangerous in the first place and that they just had a great run of luck in 2001-2002. Or, on an entirely different level of conspiratorial absurdity, there are those that blamed our own government for 9/11. “Truthers” and whatnot. But even those folks seem to have quieted down, or been successfully converted to reality.
In my view, I have no doubt that given the opportunity, Al Qaeda and other such groups would hurt us according to how much quarter we give them, and therefore I am almost inexpressibly grateful to our military for keeping my family, my community, and my country safe these last 13 years. It’s not openly recognized often enough, especially in light of whatever public missteps, gridlock, and general silliness is currently being made, often by our elected representatives, but it’s clearly evident that our Government has been able to effectively protect us in an age in which so many mean us so much harm. It is something that we should be proud of and energized to maintain.
This has been on my mind more and more throughout 2014. While we no longer have terror alerts displayed on the television screen, we have had an extraordinary spat of frightening headlines in the last few years. Consider what you’ve seen when you open up your newspaper or its website: Benghazi, Syria, ISIS/ISIL, Boko Haram, Ebola, beheadings, continued economic malaise in much of Europe, Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, Putin’s turning to China, and as of today, the reactor deal with Iran… to name just a few off the top of my head. The world remains an intensely dangerous, and in many cases, explicitly malefic place.
Yet, here we are on Veteran’s Day, 2014. The sun is out and it’s a beautiful day here in the Willamette Valley. The market’s stable and, as far as we know, we are safe and free to conduct business as usual without fear of political unrest or terrorist attacks. So, despite all the flaws, faults, and imperfections, please join us in feeling proud and deeply appreciative for the US Government, and especially the brave men and women of our armed forces.