It’s that day. Today is the day that we all remember to tell everyone that, “We Remember”, and “We will not Forget”. For so many, today is a day that we weren’t sure would ever come. Today we will be inundated with photos and videos and clips of those lost, and the score of military actions that followed. You will find small towns and major metropolises alike ablaze with American flags and homemade signage, revering “The American Spirit” … and for what?

Faces of those lost on 11 September, 2001

There are still Americans on foreign soil, identifying, tracking, and targeting individuals and groups set on destroying the evil that is the United States. There are still innocents dying for a cause they do not support or even know. Regardless of what the media tells you, there are still American citizens in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, and the rest of the Middle East and Southwest Asia … and for what?

Today, our government representatives will make it a point to broadcast themselves to as many of us as possible, making sure to tell us that they “Support the Military”, “Never Forget”, and “vow to ….”, all while still taking jabs at those on the other side of the aisle … and for what?

“The Falling Man” from the World Trade Center, NY on 11 September, 2001

Twenty years have passed since the events that supposedly “changed America forever”. Did they really?! America was undoubtedly changed, that is for certain. However, to say that we were changed forever is a fallacy. How has your individual life changed “forever” due to the events from twenty years ago today? With the exception of those that lost someone close due to the totality of events initiated from 9/11/01, I venture to say that life hasn’t changed forever, and that’s not good. 

People still exercise and revel in their freedoms, regardless of the cost or imposition to anyone else. Our government is still fraught with self-serving, obsequious charlatans, devoid of any real merit or integrity. That very same group of people continues to fail us at every turn when it comes to our economy, security, and international standing, among everything else. Twenty years have passed, and nothing has changed in Afghanistan. The Taliban once again holds the state hostage under Sharia Law. Iraq is still in turmoil, under a dysfunctional government. Iran continues to pressure the world with their nuclear program and ubiquitous support to terrorist groups. China has all but crowned themselves as the new true power state. 

World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles, an accord between states that ended hostilities and established a way ahead for all involved. The Paris Peace Treaties and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender officially ended World War II, both setting forth pathways to redevelopment. The Cold War faded out with the demolition of “The Wall” and reintegration of Western and Eastern Europe. All these major conflicts, whether violent or not, witnessed a transition of states from hostilities to socioeconomic redevelopment and integration back into the international system. The twenty years that has become the “War on Terror” doesn’t have that. The U.S. recently withdrew from Afghanistan with absolutely nothing to show for it. The people are still subjugated under militant Islamist rule and the state as a whole continues to suffer from a lack of legitimate economic independence. Moreover, shortly following our withdrawal, Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar enjoyed a state welcome with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq, simply to return and face another debacle with no clear end. 

“America’s Response” Memorial, better known as “The Horse Soldier” New York, NY

The United States maintains military bases and embassies in Germany, Japan, and Korea, but not Afghanistan, and only an embassy in Iraq. It’s as if our government refuses to pay attention to history. Then again, our government’s clear refusal to put forth the effort to truly understand any potential adversarial group is what got us to this point in the first place. Our “leaders” put more effort in to their reelection campaigns and stumping for their party’s poster children, than they do any legitimate plans for effective change. 

As we remember and honor those that we have lost on this day years ago, and in the various responses over the years since then, let us not forget that we have an obligation to them. We have an obligation to live our lives to the best of our abilities, making every moment count. We have an obligation to create a better society, one that learns from our collective past and champions effective progress on all levels. We have an obligation to help our fellow man. You are one of the ones that survived the past twenty years … and for what?

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