29 April 2006

United 93

I've often thought to myself that September 11th is the pivotal event of my generation. Just as I asked my grandmother where she was on V-J Day, and asked my mother where she was when Neil Armstrong took those first halting steps, my children and grandchildren are going to ask me where I was when four planes were hijacked on that bright Tuesday morning four and a half years ago.

I don't know what I'll tell them. I came back from class to find my roommate hanging up the phone, and she told me that two planes had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn't believe it. I couldn't. That sort of thing just didn't happen in America. It couldn't.

I knew from the news accounts that it had happened, and I saw the footage for myself, but I still didn't believe it.

I don't mean that I believed that it was faked, or anything of the sort. I mean that the enormity of the attack was beyond my understanding. I couldn't believe that so much evil could be concentrated into nineteen people that they would willingly murder three thousand innocents.

In a way, I almost wish I still couldn't believe that.

I can't point to exactly when I did come to understand the nature of our enemy. I think it was around the time of the Madrid attacks, but it was such a gradual realization that I can't be certain.

But I know now what we are facing.

We are facing evil.

We are facing an enemy that wants to destroy us and our way of life. They can and will slaughter us with gleeful impunity, because to them, we are not people. We are animals, less than human. We may be suffered to live, but only under conditions of their choosing.

Islam does not mean peace.

Islam means submission.

United 93 reminds us of what happened that clear Tuesday morning. The scene that brought me closest to tears was when the second plane had just hit the World Trade Center, and every flight control center was still and silent, heads shaking and hands coming to mouths, as the reality of the situation began to sink in.

But for me, the primary message of United 93 was that Americans will not submit. We will stand together and fight. In the face of evil, we will employ all our considerable ingenuity and what Mark Twain called our "Americanniness," and we will triumph.

There's a scene in Secondhand Lions where Uncle Hub is giving part of his "what every boy needs to know about being a man" speech. "Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most," he says. "That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil...Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in."

Honor, courage, and virtue.

The passengers on United 93 died with honor, having had the clear-eyed courage to accept their imminent death, and the virtue to act to save others despite knowing it would hasten their own end.

Good will always triumph over evil.


Blogger Muslihoon said...

That was an excellent and eloquent post. Thank you.

12:12 AM  
Blogger Dave in Texas said...

Evil will always triumph over good. Because good is dumb.

-- Dark Helmet

4:44 PM  

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