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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 09:37 AM PDT

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For the Years Ahead

9/11Twelve years.
And one year since Benghazi.
They have been marked by wars, new goals and adventures, successes, failures, and too many funerals. Too many beloved hearts not beating.
But other hearts still beat, and the fight for the people we still have with us grows stronger. New beloveds do not usurp the old, but they give us the strength to remember. They make sure we live in the present, and not in the past.

This is what I've learned in these twelve years: We honor the victims and heroes of 9/11 best when we live with love and courage. No man left behind. No gift ungiven.

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A New Day


This AP image will forever be in my mind when I think of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. There's something horrible and yet so beautiful about the seawaters rushing over Ground Zero. The site is no longer the same, and at some level I'm sure that remains have been washed away.

Ground Zero has been cleansed. Yet remains have permeated Manhattan and the Atlantic. The victims are part of us in a new way until the trumpet sounds and the sea gives up its dead. We too are changed as we walk through Manhattan or watch Atlantic waves.

We shall not forget.

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Negotiating with the Enemy

9/11Apparently Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette agrees with me in regard to negotiations with the Taliban: Surrender in Afghanistan

"The losers would be those Afghans who don't want to live under the thumb of a brutal reactionary theocracy, especially those who trusted us and sent their daughters to school. But they don't vote in our elections.

Mr. Obama supported the war in Afghanistan during the 2008 campaign, but I suspect he did so only because he so vociferously opposed the war in Iraq and didn't want people to think he was soft on national defense. His heart was never in it.

So I wish he'd decided to bug out sooner. About two-thirds of the 1,864 American servicemen and women who have been killed in Afghanistan have been killed since Barack Obama became president. They appear to have died in vain."

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9/11Boatlift: An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience

The video is about 12 minutes long, and yes, some of it is like reliving 9/11. But it also relives the incredible oneness Americans experienced on that day. Take a deep breath and watch.

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9/11Well, I made it through the anniversary. I'm hoping I didn't bite too many heads off; it was a tough day to give anyone grace. (Apologies if you were on the other end of that!) But how do you explain to people that you were driving distance from the attacks, or, most poignantly, that if you had just looked up to the sky at a particular moment you might have seen Flight 93? I've visited Ground Zero, visited the Pentagon memorial, but I haven't made it to Shanksville yet. I was basically on the Ohio/PA border...eight minutes of government/passenger indecision may have saved my life. How do you come to grips with that? How can you ever be confident that you are making full use of that gift of life?

I still struggle to piece together my personal timeline in that first hour. I know there was a delay in getting the first news. I remember that the first report made me think that it was just a small plane that had hit. I couldn't access the news at that time, but a little while later someone came in with the news about the second tower and the Pentagon. And I believe that when I got to a TV, the first tower had fallen and I saw the second tower go down "live." Then we heard that a plane had gone down in Pennsylvania and many more were still unaccounted for. That was when I realized that no one knew whether we'd see Wednesday morning.

I've been given ten more years. I hate that number because I don't feel I've done enough with it. Yes, I've done some good work, but as I flash back to that day I don't know what would ever feel like enough. Maybe it's good that we can't identify the finish line; it keeps us moving. But after facing the anniversary, I think I'm just glad to have my sanity intact.
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9/11The moon was red tonight. I kept thinking how fitting that was.

While the five-year anniversary brought a level of peace, this ten-year anniversary rests heavy. At ten years, you start thinking about what percentage of your life has been this "new" reality.

And my role in this fight has not been all I wanted it to be.

I'm spending this weekend working myself to the point of oblivion. Well, not that it will ever make me forget. And this weekend's schedule would be the same without the anniversary.

But too often it has seemed as though Americans have forgotten 9/11. Certainly our political machinations and the current administration's foreign policy are far removed from the realities of that day. And this sudden remembrance doesn't quite ring true. Also,one of my particular struggles is that there is a West Coast/East Coast divide in the experience of 9/11. It wasn't the first news of the day or the phone call that woke us upon the East Coast... we were already well into an "ordinary" day. And West Coast remembrances just aren't the same. Suddenly people are talking about "do you remember where you were when you heard?" and I cannot comprehend how a person could ever forget. I don't want to condemn them for not living the full horror...I should be thankful that many were spared the scarring experience. And I too must step aside for those who were in Manhattan or the Pentagon.

So much I could say but shouldn't. It's going to be a tough day. But those of us who have no hope of forgetting what happened ten years ago will probably fare better if we use the day to pray for the victims, their families and friends, and our national security. Because remembering only goes so far.
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Minus 3 days

9/11I know that just about everyone seems to be doing the "Ten Years" posts now, but I'm not quite ready for that. We're still a couple days short...ten years ago today we didn't know how our lives would change. Ten years ago, we existed in an oblivious reality where the few had a terrible secret knowledge of what would strike the rest of us without warning.

Ten years ago...a crossroads. Some people probably think it was a derailment in my life. But in looking back at those days leading up to 9/11, I see how the path I was on was deteriorating. I even see how I knew it long before I admitted it.

But I'm not ready to ask myself the ten-year questions just yet.
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Cradle Warriors

9/11A Childhood Defined By Before and After 9/11

The article above is a good insight into today's young adults. I spent 9/11 primarily with people who were a couple years younger than me, and I remember feeling the age difference. They didn't remember the Challenger disaster, Desert Storm, the Cold War or the fall of the Berlin Wall. They might have vaguely remembered the Oklahoma City bombing. And they probably knew the IRA as a financial plan.

I almost envy the untouchable prosperity they had in their childhood (at least if the article is to be believed.) Their loss was unique, even if their security was an illusion. But I don't think the rest of us should take our own childhoods for granted. We grew up with the understanding that enemies were out there and someone needed to do something about it. Some stepped up, others did not, but it was formative. They are converts to this life, and I will never disparage the contribution a fiery convert might make. But for the cradle warriors, it is not the moment that defines us, but rather the choice.

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Miss American Spy

9/11(with apologies to Don McLean)

A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
How New York used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, theyíd be happy for a while.

But September made me shiver
With every paper Iíd deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldnít take one more step.

I canít remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the towers fell.

So bye-bye, Miss American Spy.
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkiní whiskey and rye
Singiní, "thisíll be the day that I die.
"thisíll be the day that I die."

Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If a prophet tells you so?
Do you believe in a voterís poll,
Can freedom save your mortal soul,
And if we give it will you let it go?

Well, I know that youíre in bed with them
`cause I saw your bombs in Bethlehem.
You shuffled around in your dented shoes.
Man, I once smoked sheesha with you.

I was a lonely teenage fightiní buck
With an M-16 and a pickup truck,
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the towers fell.

I started singiní,
"bye-bye, Miss American Spy."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkiní whiskey and rye
And singiní, "thisíll be the day that I die.
"thisíll be the day that I die."

Now for ten years weíve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolliní stone,
But thatís not how it used to be.
When the people loved their liberty,
Waving bright flags in all of our hands
And with ďGod Bless America" played by brass bands,

Oh, and while the elections came crashing down,
The politician sought his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while Obama read a book of Marx,
The SEALS went after Colombia's FARC
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the towers fell.

We were singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Spy."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkiní whiskey and rye
singiní, "thisíll be the day that I die.
"thisíll be the day that I die."

Helter skelter in a quaking swelter.
Japan sent us to the fallout shelter,
Eight miles high and falling fast.
It landed foul on the grass.
The bloggers tried for a forward pass,
With the politician on the sidelines in a cast.

Now we got tired of hearing our doom
While the sergeants played a marching tune.
We all got up to dance,
Oh, but we never got the chance!
`cause the lone wolves tried to take the field;
A few passengers refused to yield.
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the towers fell?

We started singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Spy."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkiní whiskey and rye
And singiní, "thisíll be the day that I die.
"thisíll be the day that I die."

Oh, and there we were all in one place,
Generation X had lost its case
With no time left to start again.
So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick!
Jack flash sat on a candlestick
Cause fire is the devilís only friend.

Oh, and as I watched him on YouTube
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satanís spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the towers fell.

He was singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Spy."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkiní whiskey and rye
And singiní, "thisíll be the day that I die.
"thisíll be the day that I die."

I met a man who sang the blues
And I asked him for some happy news,
But he just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the sacred hall
Where Iíd heard of freedom for us all,
But the man there said that freedom wouldnít pay.

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the warriors dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost,
left to collect souls on the east coast,
The day the towers fell.

And they were singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Spy."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkiní whiskey and rye
Singiní, "thisíll be the day that I die.
"thisíll be the day that I die."

They were singing,
"bye-bye, Miss American Spy."
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkiní whiskey and rye
Singiní, "thisíll be the day that I die."
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Dead and buried at sea

9/11Last night was a very good night indeed.

I doubt I need to inform anyone about the CIA/SEAL operation that resulted in a bullet in Bin Laden's head. Neither should I have to explain Obama's political-credit seeking speech or the burial at sea.

The Pakistanis are trying to save face right now, and that's not easy. They're rightfully concerned that we'll believe that they were knowingly harboring Bin Laden. Given the secrecy (implied by the success) of this mission, I strongly doubt that there was any cooperation beyond perhaps acquiescence to a strong warning of "don't even think of messing with those helos." [EDIT: The Pentagon clearly refuted any claims of Pakistani involvement in the op.]

My heart goes out to SEAL Team Six for how they must feel about the unavoidable death of the woman who was being used as a human shield. Though they are celebrating a tremendous victory, those excellent men likely struggle with her death. I hope that amidst the congratulations, people give them support to work through those feelings. That said, WELL DONE! There are a lot of people who wish they were part of that op, and even more who want to make sure that those SEALs never have to buy their own drink again.

As many of you know, I have quite the eclectic group of friends. I know people who are absolutely horrified at the celebrations, partly for ethical reasons, partly because they're afraid this will worsen our security. But "relief" is the byword of those of us who see both sides. Bin Laden's death won't bring any of us back in time. And I choose to not live in the grip of hatred. Yet when the news came, it was as if a huge weight fell off my shoulders. Too many lives had been destroyed by him. He couldn't be allowed to continue. And God gets the final say for the rest.

For those of you in the "horrified" camp, take a step back and give us some time and space. Right now, what you're hearing from most of us is emotion. If you don't understand those emotions, that's ok, but refrain from judging for a while.

A lot of people have asked me about the potential backlash. Yes, we're going to see it. I would predict more solo suicide bombers and other lone-wolf type attacks, but the death of Bin Laden will severely hinder AQ's chances of a successful higher-level plot. He had a large percentage of the brains, money and charisma of AQ. And given the history of AQ 2nd in Command people getting killed, his successors aren't likely to fill those shoes. Any new leader is going to have a lot of work ahead to reconnect the networks, and that will leave more tracks for the CIA and the SEALs to follow. But even if there were hundreds like him ready to go, stopping his particular evil is a victory.

Ever watch footage of Bin Laden speaking? So often he had a bit of a smile and a gleam in his eyes as he spouted words of evil. I'd watch and know he was luring people to their deaths.

He made himself our enemy.

We're told to love our enemies, and that is true and good. But sometimes that means stopping them from doing further evil.

He was given a chance to surrender. He refused.

And I celebrate that he's not our problem any more.