Editor: As we approach the 19th anniversary of that fateful day in September 2001 (usually referred to as 9/11) when terrorists killed thousands of innocent people by using airplanes as missiles in New York and Virginia and also would have struck in Shanksville, PA, if not for the bravery of those on board, what lessons have we learned?
After the attack we were urged by President Bush to unite against a common enemy and he warned us not to blame all Muslims for the acts of those few who claimed to be Muslims but were fanatical extremists. At the direction of President Bush, an ecumenical service was held in the National Cathedral on the Friday after 9/11 where this point was made clearer. I was on the Department of the Army staff serving in the ACSIM Plans and Operations division, in bay 1E677 the Pentagon, lost two friends and know of a lieutenant colonel who was severely burned and survived to this day. What did I learn?
1.We need to work together in this troubled world. Unity is strength.
2. Congress needs to recall the day when they joined arms and sang “God Bless America” together on the steps of the capitol and ask why they would never dream of doing that today. Why?
3. We must be ever vigilant but also avoid becoming the kind of country we used to train to fight against. We need to know who our friends are and strengthen the ties that bind us together. We cannot go it alone. “We The People” form the United States of America, not “I, The Donald.” MG Van Antwerp who was the assistant chief of staff for Installation Management that day and with whom I served, left me with a great personal lesson, too: “Tell those you love that you love them every chance you get and if you hold any grudges get rid of them.” He urged us all to look at the area where the plane hit. He understood that this would be a hard thing to do but that we had to do it and remember.
How different that response is from the response from the president who now sits in the White House. Where President Bush called for us to unite, President Trump is a divider. Instead of urging us to work together to solve our problems, he “stirs the pot” and deflects or deceives. Instead of strengthening ties with our allies, he belittles them and weakens them, especially with NATO, with is what Putin wants. He calls those who fought and died in the military “losers” and “stupid.” At the same time, he belittles our allies, praises dictators. For example, former KGB Col. Putin and now Russian leader is meddling in this year’s elections as he did in 2016, but he is believed over our own intelligence agencies. Trump is “in love” with the dictator in North Korea. His method of operating is to please his base, and how does what happens affect ME and my chance for re-election? He forgets that he is supposed to be the president of all the people and then reminds us that Lincoln was a Republican, and in so doing tries to bind his name with the 16th president. He forgets that Lincoln visited a cemetery where war dead were interred, but President Trump did not.
Anthony V. Fasolo, Leesburg