The War at Home
September 10, 2001
"You may not be interested in war," Leon Trotsky said, "but war is interested in you." Tuesday, it hunted us down and snatched thousands from their airplane seats, their morning briefings, and their business meetings with grisly efficiency. In an act of terror too horrific to comprehend, much less control, America was attacked by a power too cowardly to show its face.
A century of titans' clashes left the U.S. mainland unscathed. We felt secure within our borders, confident of our country's strength. But this morning, twin icons to our old invincibility lie ruined. The World Trade Center, monument to our economic dominance, and the Pentagon, center of our military might, now entomb more victims than we can yet count. They leave families ever after affected by their absence and a country lesser for their lost contributions.
Tempted though some may be to glean talking points from the tragedy, this is no time for sermonizing about failed intelligence or soured imperialism. This is a season for a heartsick nation to mourn our fallen and commend our heroes. Details will surface soon enough, but they won't fill empty chairs at dinner tables. Buildings can be reconstructed; broken families cannot.
We may never know with certainty why evil stalked our skies that day. But we can find its agents. With the same steely resolve as the terrorists who targeted us, we will answer with a double measure of the same determination. Any nation that harbored them, any group that supported them, any individual that gave them aid must be held accountable - not in the name of revenge, but for justice's own sake.
The war that came looking for us Tuesday plays by unwritten rules. It bypasses our fighting forces, stakes no claim to our territory, and makes weapons of our own assets. Pandemonium and panic are the laurels it covets, but Tuesday we denied terror that reward. As casualty reports rose, so too did the spirit of a disconsolate nation - so much so that New York's mayor asked volunteers to stop coming and blood banks couldn't contain willing donors.
Late Tuesday night, amidst the carnage of lower Manhattan, an anonymous patriot raised a flag from a twisted lamppost. Beneath its watch, rescue workers toiled through the night, sorting through the wreckage of buildings and bodies. As they tended the wounded and grieved the dead, our banner's colors faded beneath layers of dust, yet it fluttered still -- a tattered reminder that America, though shaken still stands, and will live to fight another day.
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