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9/11: Where are we today?

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Let me start simply with this: God Bless America.  God rest the souls of those lost on 9/11/01 and those who’ve given their lives in this fight since that time.  The men and women of our military and law enforcement who have so genuinely fought to prevent this from happening again are among the best of us.  May God bless you always.

11 years ago today, I was getting ready to head to the office when news of the first plane to strike the World Trade Center reached our eyes and ears.  By the time I arrived, the second tower had been hit.   We scrambled to get as much news on the air as possible.  All regular programming was suspended.  No commercials were aired.  No music was played.  It was wall-to-wall coverage those first 24 hours.  For days after, every word-every message on the air was carefully measured.  The enormity of the tragedy dictated that we had to be sensitive to how everything was received.  It was new territory.  It was beyond tragic.

That first day was some 18 hours long for myself and most of our on air staff.  I was absolutely brain fried by the time I got home.  Six hours of sleep and it was right back to work.  The memories of that day are as fresh as if it all happened yesterday.  We’ve come a long way from September 11, 2001.  Much has changed, most notably, security.  Life was about to take on new meaning.  The way we lead our lives would, bit by bit, change.

There is no question; we’ve sacrificed some liberty in the name of security and safety.  But has it been worth it?  Are we safer?  9/11 was tragic.  Thousands of lives were lost.   The lives of those left behind, the survivors and the families of those murdered have been forever changed.  Nineteen cowards’ boarded planes loaded with innocent souls and successfully crashed three of four aircraft into World Trade Center One, World Trade Center Two and the Pentagon.  The fourth plane, United 93, was apparently taken down by passengers who rushed the cockpit.  It crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA before it could reach its target in Washington.

Those nineteen worthless thugs had sought to set into motion the destruction of a nation.  The attacks were planned for years.   Some of them even learned how to fly right here in America.  Our own FBI and CIA were criticized for their failure to communicate information they had on these cowards beforehand.  How could we have been so blind?  Eleven years later, it’s clear that these attacks could have been prevented, maybe.  But it happened.  There’s no way to undo the tragedy that’s been done.  In the days, weeks, months and now years since 9/11, the security surrounding everything from military bases to airports and train stations has changed.  We are more aware, or at least I hope we are.  Vigilance is not a bad thing.

But what about the Department of Homeland Security?  Has it grown too powerful?  What about the TSA?  Are they too heavy handed?  Does it make sense to ‘strip search’ little old ladies or wheel chair bound children?  Is it right to do these things all in the name of ‘fairness’, or because we don’t want to be accused of profiling?  Many argue that where we have landed is not a good place.  Are we becoming a police state?  A teenage boy was recently visited by the FBI over a pro-Ron Paul video.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is on record as saying that returning U.S. war veterans could be viewed as potential terrorists.  The very definition of terrorism, it would appear, is being contorted in the name of political correctness.

What about our patriotism?  What happened to that burst of American pride that sprang forth in the wake of tragedy?  We went out and bought flags and planted them in front of our homes and businesses.  How many millions of American flag pins and ‘USA’ buttons were sold in the weeks and months immediately after the attacks?  Didn’t it feel good to express that?  Country music was on fire with patriotism and calls for justice to be done, with songs like Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” and Charlie Daniels “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s a Flag”.  There were some more somber tunes like Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You” or Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten?” What happened to all of this?  So much of it seems to have disappeared from our lives.

What have we learned?  Are we more secure?  Could this happen again?  How many terror attacks have truly been thwarted since 9/11?  My sources tell me that many attacks have been stopped.  I am grateful to the men and women who have risked (and in too many cases given) their lives to protect us from further attacks.  But have we sacrificed too much of our liberty in the name of security?  The America we live in today is not the America of September 10, 2001.  While I am not Congressman Paul’s biggest fan, I share his love for our Constitution.  It’s the framework for all that Congress and the White House should do.  Unfortunately, they often ignore it.  I’m a Constitutional Conservative.  Does that make me a threat to my own country?  Most of you would say no-that’s preposterous.  But there are clearly those within our own nation who see people like me, the Tea Party Patriots and even devout Christians as just that.  Yes, it is preposterous.  What will we look in another eleven years?  In 20 years?  In 100 years?  America is and always has been an exceptional nation.  But our republic is in grave danger.  Yes, terrorism is still a very real threat.  But so is our massive debt (which the Federal Reserve has effectively monetized) as is our unwillingness to secure our very own borders.   I’m afraid much of the danger today may be from within.

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