War Against Terror is Personal; and Should Be for All Americans

By John E. Carey
September 11, 2006

Just after midnight this morning, Monday, September 11, 2006, I stepped outside with some other journalists – they seeking to smoke and I just looking for some cool, fresh air.

A dark police helicopter swept quickly past, fast and low enough so that the drumming of the blades and the roar of the turbine engines made the heart jump.

That helicopter probably would not have been on patrol five years ago.

September 11, 2001, like December 7, 1941, was one of those days that changed the world.

Documentary filmmaker Ric Burns calls the attack “as seismic as an event can be …. Rarely does the future announce itself so vividly and horrifyingly.”

But five years after the Pearl Harbor attack, World War II had already been over for a year and a half.

Now we are almost over the shock and the blast. We are dealing with the aftermath; the war.

This is a different war. A long war. High technology tools like satellite communications gatherers gobble up cell phone traffic for analysis at Fort Meade, Maryland and elsewhere. Yet terrorists in caves use the most low tech methods and tools to plan and execute their attacks.

We spoke to three people yesterday, September 10, who all had very personal experiences on September 11, 2001. Two witnessed a streaking jetliner plow into the pentagon. One ran from what is now called “Ground Zero” in New York, unable to fully comprehend the extent of the destruction she was fleeing.

We were in the pentagon and felt the blow very personally – both emotionally and physically. We lost friends, among them Commander Gerry DeConto, with whom we shared assignments and challenges.

Someone recently said, “You take this war on terror personally.”

Yes indeed.

All Americans should take the war on terror seriously and personally. The terrorist robbed us of our peace and our serenity. They stole our fellow citizens of the world, both those that died on 9/11 and everyone killed since in Iraq, Afghanistan, London, Madrid, and elsewhere.

Every free citizen of the world who has died because a terrorist planned and executed a wanton disregard for human life is a loss to all of us.

The terrorist profess death and destruction. They diminish human dignity. They deny life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We are bleeding a loss of innocent human lives for a terrorist cause without hope and without foundation in the principles of human righteousness. We are being attacked by aggressors using the name of a great religion to kill their fellow men.

Americans pay taxes as part of the entry fee to the great democracy. And now men and women representing us are paying with their lives so that those at home can live in peace, and freedom; enjoying the football season, enjoying time with family and shopping at the mall.

The terrorists hate the fact that they have not yet totally disrupted American life. Their objectives have no merit and deserve to cause their own destruction.

It seems to me they have formulated a misguided religious war and not us.

We probably can never return to the time when we could walk with unquestioned resolved into places like the U.S. Capitol building without the intrusion of metal detectors, law enforcement officers looking us over and having a stranger inspect our key chains.

But we can persevere and win. We can defeat the terrorist. We can bring order to the world ahead; if we have the resolve to weather the storm and see the conflict through to its end.

It’s a good idea to take this personally.

Mr. Carey is former president of International Defense Consultants Inc.

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