Column/Lest we forget

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tomorrow – Sept. 11, 2006 – as we all remember, marks the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks on Manhattan’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the aborted attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

This unprecedented sneak attack on the U.S. mainland – conducted by 19 hijackers of four passenger airliners – resulted in a total of 2,973 killed plus 24 people still missing in the Twin Towers (World Trade Center) attack. It is estimated that 200 victims met their fate by jumping from the upper floors.

Those who died in the attacks included 125 at the Pentagon (military and civilian), 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers. The property damage included the two 110-floor Twin Towers and

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five other buildings – the Marriot Hotel and four Subway stations – valued at billions of dollars.

However, the innocent lives loss cannot be measured in dollars – but only as a terrible sacrifice of innocent people – who left behind thousands of grieving family members and friends.

The hijackers, who were mostly Saudi citizens, perpetrated three organized attacks, by hijacking and flying two airliners (one each) into the Twin Towers, another hit the Pentagon, and the fourth plane – headed for Washington – with the Capitol building as the target, crashed in Pennsylvania.

The Washington-bound airliner was forced down in a field near Shanksville, PA, by a group of heroic passengers, led by Todd Bremer with his “Let’s roll” war cry. All told, 246 passengers and crew died in the four hijacked planes.

It was determined by our government that the terrorist organization , al-Qaeda, under the Taliban regime and led by Osama bin Laden, were responsible for the attacks. About one month later, the United States led a broad coalition of international forces in an invasion of Afghanistan–with the mission to kill or capture the terrorists and apprehend/kill bin Laden. That conflict is still ongoing and bin Laden is still at large.

The economic impact on the U.S. and world markets was beyond comprehension. The New York Stock Exchanges were closed for a week – the longest closure since the 1929 Market crash. When the stock markets reopened on September 17, 2001, the Dow Jones index experienced its biggest one day and one week drops in its history – 684 and 1370 points respectively. Up until 2005, Wall and Broad Streets (near the Stock Exchange) were barricaded to prevent attacks on the Exchange building.

The public and international response to the attacks was overwhelming. President Bush’s approval soared to 86 percent – as he spoke before the nation and a joint session of Congress.

Many memorial services were held, and there was an outpouring of gratitude expressed for the firefighters, police officers and rescue workers who performed heroically during the aftermath of this horrendous event. New York’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani won high praise nationally for the highly visible and effective role he played – deservedly so!

Unfortunately – unlike the almost total unity and patriotism – that existed after the Pearl Harbor attack almost 60 years ago, the post 9/11 stories and rhetoric quickly deteriorated into political posturing by both the liberal media and the anti-Bush politicians.

Unbelievably – since the attacks – various conspiracy theories have emerged, suggesting that our government

had knowledge of the impending 9/11 attacks or may have even planned the attacks on our own country. How “sick” can some people be!!

Also, as we all know, there has been a crescendo of criticism from all sides recently, regarding our involvement in the Iraq war. There are many Liberals who advocate a “cut and run” policy.

Thankfully, George Bush is adamant in rejecting any “pull-out” strategy–until the Iraqis are capable of providing their own security. Of course, with the Congressional elections coming up in November, the Iraq war and the war on international terrorism are going to be major issues.

In my opinion, given the recent Israel vs. the Hezballah terrorist conflict ,the airliner bomb threats in London–plus the Iran nuclear situation, we are caught up in perilous times regarding

our national security.

Nothing is more important than having the best possible leadership(in Washington) at the helm of our “Ship of State.”

Thanks to the great work by those responsible in our government, there have been no further terrorrist attacks on our soil since our second(since Pearl Harbor) “Day of Infamy.”

God Bless America!

Byrd Looper is a regular columnist for The Times-Journal.