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Today marks 19 years from September 11, 2001, a day on which nearly 3,000 individuals perished, and thousands more were injured and poisoned, from four Islamist terrorist attacks using hijacked airliners. The attacks led the United States into two wars, one to remove the Islamist terrorist regime in Afghanistan that shielded Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership in the lead-up to September 11, and another war in Iraq, where thousands more Americans gave their life and limb on the battlefield. From the death and suffering afflicted on September 11, to the subsequent wars and the cosmic change in the American psyche, the day remains one of the most tragic and consequential in recent U.S. history.
My Quaint Recollections
Thousands of people in New York City lost loved ones in the attacks, and others suffered in different ways, from seeing things that cannot be unseen to being poisoned by aerial debris from the fall of the Twin Towers. My recollections of the day are not particularly remarkable – I was in school across the river from the towers, went home early, and still distinctly remember the site of what was left of the towers from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade the burnt smell in the air that enveloped south Brooklyn. But there are quite enough powerful recollections of September 11 without my quaint recollections.
Remembering Those Who Served and Serve
On this day, we remember those who lost their lives on September 11, the families who suffered, those who suffer and suffered from residual health issues from the day, and the brave men and women who fought and died overseas in the aftermath, regardless of what one may think of the wars or how they were conducted. It is also a day to honor the brave policemen and women and firefighters who rushed toward danger instead of running from it, and to remember the too-often beleaguered men and women in blue who would do so again without hesitation, if heaven forbid they were called upon to do so.
Positive News on a Solemn Day – the Bahrain-Israel Agreement
This September 11 brought with it some good news in the form of Bahrain joining the United Arab Emirates in establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel in a deal brokered by the United States. Although Osama bin Laden planned the September 11 attacks from Afghanistan, most of the attackers were his countrymen from Saudi Arabia. In Gaza and the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians, backed by some in leadership, took to the streets to celebrate the deaths of thousands of Americans. The announcement of Bahrain’s peace deal with Israel is more than making the implicit explicit, that it occurred on September 11 reflects how far many of the countries in the Arab world have come in confronting the dangers of Islamist extremism and terror. 19 years ago, most of the September 11 hijackers were Saudi, but today, Saudi Arabia broaches no objection to its two closest allies in the region making peace with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal.
To be sure, Islamist terror remains a grave threat around the world, as has killed hundreds of thousands since September 11. But the improved policies of the ground in the Middle East combined with strong anti-terror alliances out in the open will, with hope, help ensure that the horrors of September 11 are never again repeated on American soil.
Recommended Non-New Leaf Journal Reading for the Occasion
I will conclude this piece with some recommended off-site reading. On September 9, 2016, Politico published a piece with recollections from those who were with and around President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001, and some of the difficult decisions they had to make in extraordinary circumstances. It is an astounding article, and well work your time – Politico’s “We’re the Only Plane in the Sky.”