He was 5 years old, my youngest, sitting on the couch, his feet barely hanging over the edge of the cushions. His blue eyes wide, and curly locks of mussed blond hair framing his thunderstruck face. “They hate us, honey,” I told him. “They hate America. They just want to kill Americans.”
“Do they want to kill kids?” he pleaded. I had to edit my words at that point. I knew the truth. The truth was “Yes, they want to kill kids. And if the bad men got the chance they would kill our whole family.” But there are certain truths that are not given freely, and must be discovered through the process of maturation and inquiry. My son had years to discover for himself the poisonous character of the 9/11 killers. “You’re safe,” I told him, my other son and two daughters listening intently. “Colorado is the best place to be. We are safe out here, they won’t try to get us in our town.”
We went about our lives that day. I taught in a classroom of students with special needs. The radio was playing quietly in the background and I would listen closely every so often to hear updates. Was this a national event? Would Denver be next? I chose to say nothing to my students, the most guileless of all. It was hard enough to explain the attacks to a child of normal intelligence. It would be pointless to try to explain the motivations of loathsome men and ideologies of blood to minds that cannot begin to fathom hate.
On the way home I stopped by a supermarket to stock up on some dry goods, an effort to reinforce my home storage, should a time of deprivation follow that day. I was surprised that the market was nearly empty of people. The few who were present were buzzing about the news of the attack, but no one was talking about the uncertainty of the days ahead. I observed and said little. In a trance of deep pondering I felt a shift in my spirit. Nothing would be the same. History had turned a corner, and the way ahead was dark, and smoky, and perilous.
I put up our flag when I got home. American flags festooned our neighborhood. There were pick-up trucks with large flags flapping behind their cabs, hoisted high on poles. A statement of utter defiance against the attackers of 9/11 issued from this town of miners, ranchers, and gas and oil workers, a redneck manifesto, the utter repudiation of surrender.
I remember that day almost hour for hour, as we all do who were fully cognizant of the attacks of 9/11. Many believed that the fervor of 9/12 would take permanent hold and that we would enjoy the likes of post-World War II unity. But the rush to patriotism was short-lived and the contempt for America and the principles of liberty surfaced as soon as notions of military retribution against supporters of Al Qaeda and other terrorist regimes tumbled off the tongues of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. There would be no lasting turn-around by the sector of American politics that has been at war against America’s greatness. Progressives would become more hardened and intense in their assaults against the Constitution, Jude0-Christian traditions, and Capitalism, and I knew it.
The world’s civilizations have always gone through cycles of destruction; blessings of prosperity and worldly comforts, followed by pride and the withdrawal from God, followed by moral decline and national weakness, followed by wars and destruction, followed by humility and seeking succor from God, followed by renewed morality and blessings of prosperity. The United States of America has been in moral decline for decades and destructive forces stalk our shores, our cities, our homes, and our hearts. But God Almighty has granted us a window of renewal before the swords of war and social decay fall on our necks. Unlike other civilizations, we have been protected by God the Eternal Father who made this country for His purposes, and by the Constitution which He inspired and imparted to the Founding Fathers. We have been given the power and tools to divert the path to civil dissolution. And many of us have been inspired to rise up against our ideological and corporeal enemies.
The Tea Party and the conservative resurgence is a movement of peaceful and religious individuals, diverse and widespread, definable only by the common characteristics of Patriotism, Faith, Love of Freedom, Love of Family, Sacrifice, and a willingness to give up everything tangible to restore the future for generations that will follow. They have arisen out of the dust of 9/11. A people who love God and who are prepared to defend His Constitution and His most favored nation with their lives.
Our hearts have not been hardened, but we are wiser, more aware and informed. We have come to understand the malevolent intentions and tactics of our enemies but we do not hate them nor do we embed ourselves in fortresses of fear. We allow the light of our faith in God to burn more brightly. We counter the darkness as a people by loving better and standing on principles of personal goodness and charity with more consistency. We diminish the darkness not by a paler shade of black, but with the brightest shades of light. The blood of those who died ten years ago is sacred, a token of reawakening in the eternal clash of good and evil. We will not defile that blood or the memory of the innocent with hate. The horrors of 9/11/01 broke our hearts. Those hearts receptive to the light and direction of God have been enlarged and a wave of Godly power has engulfed a generation that ten years ago had become complacent and materialistic.
How has 9/11 changed me, my family? I have stepped back and now look at the world with bigger eyes into which more light enters, and the stories of the moment are but a brush stroke in a vast mural of human history, with God as the central theme, and His power and purpose shaping every component of a great, intricate, and divine composition.
We are no safer now than we were thirteen years ago, and we are now fighting the powers-that-be in our own government as we hang on to our liberty and the American Dream. But we will win with love, with the light of God to guide us. And we will never, never forget the price that was paid on 9/11/01 to awaken us from a national stupor into the nightmare reality of our own survival. Our greatest act of revenge has been to love. The Islamic Terrorists who attacked, and still attack us, desire Americans to fall into the pit of hatred in which they are trapped, and in which they will die. So long as we love God, country, and mankind, we have won. We cannot lose. Love is our revenge.
By Marjorie Haun 9/12/14