I woke up to the sounds of a newscast coming from down the hall in our dorm. Loud and nervous voices were discussing explosions and a building having fallen and the unknown number of people killed, injured, or missing.
As teen-aged college students will do, I had stayed up too late the night before watching movies. Coincidentally, I had fallen asleep watching was The Siege, a movie about terror attacks in New York City. Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, and Bruce Willis star in what would, to me, end up foreshadowing much of what would happen over the following years in America and much of the western world: terrorists would strike, people would die, bad decisions that compromise the values and freedoms the USA was built upon would be made in the name of ‘safety’, and, in the end, the only thing that would change was the gradual erosion of human rights.
As I came to full consciousness, it slowly set it that what I was hearing was not the movie still playing, it was the sickening truth that my country had actually been attacked. Wolves, dressed as sheep, had taken advantage of the freedoms and liberties that were nonexistent in their countries yet taken for granted in ours. Like the cowards they are, they sucker-punched an entire nation and murdered nearly 3000 people in an incredibly well planned and coordinated series of attacks.
16 years later, life has moved on for some, yet many still remember and most will never forget that Tuesday morning in September of 2001. What does remain for everyone though is the requirement to remain ever-vigilant in the face of danger. When hurt or injured by others, we must not compromise our values, or the rights of others. We cannot delude ourselves into believing that sacrificing our liberty and freedom for the illusion of safety will actually keep us safe.
“…those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its Reply to the Governor on November 11, 1755