That fateful September 11 day twenty years ago instilled an immediate fear that was followed by compassion reaching across political, religious, and racial borders. Just about everyone worked together to fight the enemy that hit the U.S. shores. “United We Stand” is what this country was built on and proved to be true as most collected harmoniously to help the United States literally rise from the ashes.
September 11 Aftermath of Compassion is to not be Forgotten
The quest to come together, as we did in the immense aftermath of Sept 11, 2001, is as important today as it was on that most difficult day. Unfortunately, many have forgotten important lessons learned from 9/11.
The current political climate has caused an almost horrific effect turning loved ones and friends into enemies. How do we not learn from history – one just needs to look at what the Civil War did to break apart families.
We are now fighting homegrown terrorism every day within our own borders – along with a pandemic. Attacks by U.S. citizens on fellow countrymen and women are giving terrorists beyond our borders all they have dreamt and worked to cause. The civil unrest caused by deep political and racial divides, and immaturity of making something as simple as protecting others by wearing a mask into a political war.
September 11 Was Start of the United States Longest War
Twenty years ago, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the U.S. began the invasion of Afghanistan. This started what we now know as our longest war.
The phase one mission that lasted only two months was to take out the Taliban – as this was the faction that protected the September 11 Al-Qaida attackers. Phase two began in 2002 and lasted until 2008. The goal was to take down the Taliban military so the Afghan state could rebuild. In 2008 we began the third phase of counterinsurgency.
Troops were increased in 2009 to stop Taliban attacks. The goal was to start the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2011 once rebels were reintegrated into Afghan culture. Unfortunately, efforts proved futile as attacks and casualties did not wane and the Afghan police and military proved unprepared to take over duties to ward off the Taliban. In December 2014, the U.S. and NATO combat missions came to a formal end. At the time, the 13-year war fought in Afghanistan became the longest war ever taken on by the United States.
In 2014 hope of an end to most of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan was to be on the horizon in 2016. Expectations for a new and better-unified government ended in more dysfunction of corruption. With a new administration in the U.S. new decisions regarding troops in Afghanistan were to be made once again.
A cave complex taken over by suspected Islamic State militants was taken out by a most powerful ever non-nuclear bomb dropped by the United States. This was the start of a new “open-ended military commitment” to invest in what seemed to be a never-to-end war.
Longest War Comes to End for US Troops
In 2019 the then-presidential administration attempted peace talks with the Taliban. Making a deal with the enemy to remove troops from the country for the exchange of the Taliban stating it will not allow any international terror factions to operate in Afghanistan. September 2019 saw the president calling off peace talks supposedly because one soldier had been killed by a Taliban attack – even as the Taliban wished to continue negotiations.
February 2020 brought new hope for a troop withdrawal but airstrikes continued. On Sept 12, 2020, negotiations take place once the Afghan government releases 5000 Taliban prisoners. Meanwhile, the Taliban calls for an Islamic system to govern the country. By November promises of troops to be cut in half by January 2021 are made by acting U.S. Defense Secretary – based on the then-current administration promise to end the forever war.
With a new U.S. administration in place as of January 2021, the new president states that he will follow through on the last administration’s promise and agreement to remove troops. In efforts to withdraw quickly, 6000 troops are deployed to assist with getting U.S. citizens out as well as the 1000s of Afghan people, along with their families, who aided the United States. By August 31, 2021, the mission to remove troops had officially ended with Afghan officials promising to continue to aid in helping those to leave who still wished to.
September 11 Aftermath Empathy Needs to Reach Beyond Borders
It was a tough time withdrawing and there will no doubt be consequences, but this was just a forever war going nowhere and it was time to put an end to it. That in no way means the fight against terrorism has ended or that the U.S. will not continue to help free Afghans. It does mean it is time for us to get back to taking care of our own at home.
With the end of the longest war and still an ongoing pandemic, the United States has forgotten the coming together of souls that the day we are to Never Forget was to teach us. We are not just fighting a pandemic of a deadly illness but a pandemic of racism and religious freedoms.
Before 9/11 and since veterans have been fighting new trauma every day within their own minds. We now have the many newest of veterans and supporters rescued from Afghanistan that need support and gratitude. They need to come back to a society that will work together for a common goal of peace among our own citizens (whether natural or immigrants) – even as we work to constantly battle terrorism within and outside our borders.
Any military or veteran, or family member, in crisis should contact the Veteran Crisis Line. These are responders working tirelessly aiding our veterans to combat mental and emotional wars within themselves.
September 11 Lives on To Teach Unity to Never Forget
Twenty years ago, sunshine-filled a beautiful morning sky in metro NY as I drove to work. My usual music accompaniment on my drive was broken by an announcement of a plane hitting North World Trade Tower. I run into my office just in time to hear news of a second plane hitting the South Tower, and another then hitting the pentagon.
In shock, reality set in that we were being attacked and war has come to our shores. Passengers aboard another plane thwarted an attempt to hit perhaps the capital. Brave souls gave their lives taking the plane down in a Pennsylvania field.
I will never forget running to retrieve my then six year old daughter from school with all of us in shock coming together on our beach as we watched the smoke from Ground Zero rise for months to come as the smell of terror filled the air. We worked in harmony taking care of our first responders and cried together in mourning each soul lost.
The towers are long gone and a new shining beacon has risen to overlook the twin footprints and the New York City skyline as if to watch over to help stop chaos before it hits our shores. Never Forget means more than just not forgetting what happened that day. Never Forget is about remembering the lessons of flying the flag to be patriotic against enemies looking to harm all in the U.S. – not as a symbol of a political party.
Compassion is key to working together to save the United States of our ancestors. Native Americans, ancestors of slaves forced to come here, and those born of immigrants coming to America in hopes of freedom and better lives for themselves and their descendants, need to thank all fighting for freedom and equality. We must Never Forget as we fight deadly enemies, including a pandemic, together as we did in the aftermath of September 11.