September 11 is Patriot Day in the USA, a day to remember the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. On that day, we lost nearly 3,000 brethren. Many were US citizens, but 90 or more countries lost citizens that day.
On the seventh anniversary of the attacks that resulted in the Global War on Terror, let us remember those who died, innocently going about their daily routines, oblivious of an evil no less sinister than Hitler’s so-called Final Solution. To the initial roll of the dead, we must add 4,729 military losses (as of Sep 6, 2008) in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Of these, 7 were Michigan Army National Guardsmen. I didn’t know any of them personally, but one is from the city where I live. Regardless of our views on the war, we owe them, and their families, a debt of gratitude.
I personally know about a half dozen Soldiers in theater right now and another half dozen at mobilization stations preparing to deploy to Iraq. I work with at least another dozen that have already been there. I have interacted with Soldiers getting ready for their second, and sometimes third, deployment.
For me, this war is personal. Seven of my comrades are no longer with us. My biggest concern, however, is the lack of engagement I perceive. A lot of people, even military people, have settled back into their routines. The Global War on Terror has become just part of the way things are. It’s a topic of conversation, not unlike the weather, for many people. In government, it’s just one of the things we deal with. There’s an unstated effort to bureaucratize mobilizing our friends and neighbors to make it less personal and more, uh, normal. I agree we should standardize the process and make preparing for deployment the best it can be. At the same time, I think treating mobilization as just another task depersonalizes our Soldiers.
We all have thoughts and memories from 9/11/01. Remember the victims and remember those who sacrificed after them. Neither asked for the initial attack. Nor did they have a voice in decisions made that day or afterwords. But they fulfilled their duty on our behalf. For that, we should be grateful. That’s what Patriot Day is about, whether you agree with the War on Terror or not.