Green Room

Falling Through Fire

posted at 12:50 am on September 11, 2009 by

When someone told me a plane had just hit the World Trade Center, I thought they meant a Cessna. I would imagine a lot of people had that reaction on 9/11. The truth was difficult to comprehend. The fear we inflict upon ourselves is electric with anticipation. Real horror, dropped before our eyes without warning, is dry and hollow. It can be difficult to focus your eyes on something you never saw coming.

In the afternoon hours of 9/11, everything became possible, except what actually happened. No one could have guessed that al-Qaeda’s attack on America would be defeated aboard United 93, only minutes after it began. I hope, with all the ferocity of a broken heart that will never mend, their defeat came as a stunning surprise to those animals. I hope every one of them died with a passenger’s hands around his throat.

United 93 may have crashed in the fields of Shanksville, but it came to rest in the sands of Omaha Beach, after gliding over the snow of Valley Forge, and it sleeps beneath the quiet midnight stars of Ia Drang. The American Revolution has raged for over two centuries, and one mighty company of heroes has fought through every battle. The proposition that free men cannot be broken by the will of tyrants is a challenge. No one can look at the rowdy, mismatched, vital, beautiful sea of Americans, and doubt that challenge will forever roar beyond our borders. We will liberate the world, eventually, if the tyrants don’t stop us. The enemy keeps returning to that conclusion… usually a few bloody days before we do.

It’s really not surprising that the united American spirit of the days after 9/11 proved to be short-lived. Beneath the political disputes of today turn vast gears of philosophy and doctrine, forged generations ago, by people who looked beyond their own lifetimes. We like to trivialize political disputes, perhaps because most of us understand the love of a single friend is more valuable than a million pages of ideology… and how many people lack at least one friend who disagrees with them? Maybe we also look down at politics because we retain a little of the Spirit of 1776, and dislike the notion that our lives should be shaped by the agenda of others. No matter what we think of them, those vast gears are still there, and nothing could have stopped them from grinding for long.

The idea that we should have given Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt on his weapons of mass destruction, and cease-fire violations, always seemed strange to me. In the hours after the World Trade Center fell, a great many Americans wanted to do a lot more than invade Afghanistan or Iraq. We certainly have the power to do a lot more. It is to our eternal credit that we did not use it. In the aftermath of an unspeakably brutal attack, we could have done our worst, but we did our best instead. The flag-draped coffin of an American soldier blazes with the glory of a man or woman who sacrificed everything to defend American lives, while also cherishing the value of innocent foreign lives.

If we are to defeat the evil that brought down the World Trade Center, we must do more than dig a handful of vermin from the mountains of Afghanistan. Brave men and women have made a breathtaking start in Iraq. Celebrating the honor of their achievement does not require us to forget the mistakes our leaders made along the way. Failure to learn from the mistakes made in war is a sin against the fallen. As we measure those mistakes, we should consider that changing a people without destroying them first is the undiscovered country of warfare, and Americans are its lonely pioneers.

Eight years later, it’s a lot to ask people to think about 9/11 every single day. On this one day, at least, we can remember three thousand people who began an ordinary morning, and ended it by falling through fire. It was not a natural disaster, or a “tragedy,” and by God I am weary in my soul of people who amuse themselves by pretending it was a government conspiracy. It was an attack. It was murder. Across the Middle East tomorrow, there will be people who celebrate the murderers. Don’t turn away from the sight. We cannot afford to allow this enemy to become invisible. We can’t afford to let our heroes become invisible, either. The savages with box cutters were real. So were the men who ran into those collapsing towers. In their name, with love for their memory, and luminous with their spirit, we will prevail.

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Comment pages: 1 2

Thank you Doc.
Your words insure “WE will never Forget”.

amex on September 11, 2009 at 9:37 AM

As grandiloquent a remembrance as I have ever read on 9/11. Rush Limbaugh should share it on his show.

Doctor Zero, you have a powerful gift. Thank you for sharing it with Hot Air.

Terrie on September 11, 2009 at 9:45 AM

God bless you Doctor Zero for your eloquence. It brought tear to my eye.

milemarker2020 on September 11, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Beautiful…never forget

bestwins on September 11, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Rush Limbaugh should share it on his show.

Terrie on September 11, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Are you going to email the link to Rush?

Maquis on September 11, 2009 at 9:49 AM

The flag-draped coffin of an American soldier blazes with the glory of a man or woman who sacrificed everything to defend American lives, while also cherishing the value of innocent foreign lives.

Twenty five years of saluting Old Glory in uniform, at the then rare funeral, even overseas in hellholes of the past, present, and future, yet henceforth the phrase “blazes with glory” shall the thought that leaps to my mind every time I see the most beautiful flag this sad world has ever known, especially when it shelters a fallen hero.

Bravo Zulu Delta Zulu!

Maquis on September 11, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Excellent article, thank you.

“We will liberate the world, eventually, if the tyrants don’t stop us.”

Only in the last few years have I fully realized the depth of the challenge *here* in our own country, where the organized Left is actively working to expand the power of the State over the individual. They may think they want social justice, a compassionate government, etc., etc., but what we will all get is a form of tyranny. So compelled are they to “change” this country — not *reform* it — that they spill their vision even onto this day. September 11 should be a day of remembrance, mourning and reflection, not a “National Day of Service” promoted by government in support of government priorities. I’ve read articles by committed Lefist/Democrats who believe that 9/11 is a “Republican day” and they are “taking it back.” This mocks the very nature of this day, which is no more a “Democrat Day” or “Republican Day” than was December 7, 1941.

The best remedy is more of what Doctor Zero ordered. Speak your mind honestly and candidly to your friends and neighbors about your views and ideals, about what this day means to you, and to the country. Challenge your local politicians, your school board, even your local neighborhood association with your views. It will do us all a great service. For this SF Bay Area boy, it means doing so in atmosphere of derision and disbelief. But I’m tired of hiding my views, even when people I know express shock at the “new me.” It’s the same me, I’m just not being timid about what I think anymore.

EasyEight on September 11, 2009 at 9:56 AM

Once again, I am moved by Doctor Zero. Each piece seems to top the last. I thank you.

I suspect Doctor Zero stays in the Green Room because he/she wants to. I also suspect we would know him/her by his/her real name. Am I right?

doctormom on September 11, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Beautifully worded . . . thank you.

liv2race on September 11, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Why is it the rest of the world can only support us when we’re battered and bloodied like on 9/11? Seems like when we started fighting back that much of the world seemingly turned against us. I don’t get it.

As for me, this is truly a day of remembrance that fills me with great sadness and anger but also with hope as we pursue those who carried out this atrocity and those who would do it again.

Never Forgive, Never Forget.

Thank you Doc for once again so eloquently describing the sentiments so many of us feel in our heart and soul but have a hard time putting into words. You have a gift and I am so thankful you share it with us.

Yakko77 on September 11, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Very nice, Thank you.

Greed on September 11, 2009 at 10:08 AM

United 93 may have crashed in the fields of Shanksville, but it came to rest in the sands of Omaha Beach, after gliding over the snow of Valley Forge, and it sleeps beneath the quiet midnight stars of Ia Drang.

Dang it, Doc, that goes straight to the heart.

Weight of Glory on September 11, 2009 at 10:17 AM

It was not a natural disaster, or a “tragedy,” and by God I am weary in my soul of people who amuse themselves by pretending it was a government conspiracy. It was an attack. It was murder.

I am truly sick of the truthers who pretend that it’s still Sep 2001 and nothing has been investigated, and that no one would has had time to come forward and spill the beans of a conspiracy.

Watching the replay of the coverage and remembering the rage and uncertainty of what else may happen that day.

And 8 years later we’re still safe, thanks to president Bush and our military.

How will we react to the next attack?

Chainsaw56 on September 11, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Hi Doc:

I live in DC and well remember the chaos that day. It has defined my life since, as in middle age, I try to figure out how to do my part in fighting this battle, with what few tools I have. I told my nephew the day following, on 9/12/09, “Samuel, today, the best thing I know to do to fight against terrorists, is to pick up my courage and to go to work to continue our way of life. You just know that God will keep me safe, and that this is the right thing to do.” I’ve continued to try and do the right thing every day since.

This part of your piece hit me, and has been slapping me in the face for a week now:

It was not a natural disaster, or a “tragedy,” and by God I am weary in my soul of people who amuse themselves by pretending it was a government conspiracy. It was an attack. It was murder.

I am bone-tired of otherwise intelligent people who really want this to be Bush-Cheney’s conspiracy to start a war. Lord, forgive them for deliberate, pig-headed ignorance in the face of evidence. Also, please forgive those who dance in the street to celebrate murderers; it is beyond my pitiable strength. They are mesmerized addicts…

I fear for my country, for my husband’s children, and for what we might be leaving behind us for a legacy. I always wanted to leave something better, and yet this president, this manchurian puppet, this idiot-idealogue, threatens to bring down the beacon of hope of the world. I am so angry all the time, and today, I add tears of remembrance to the mix. And above it all, I feel totally powerless.

I do hope the crowds meeting at the Capitol in DC this weekend are heard, by someone. I’m really tired of not being heard, and if I am, of being scolded like a child for my (rather well-researched) point of view.

Thanks, Doc. This was excellent, as always.

WraithRat on September 11, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Offering my thanks to DocZero from a wounded heart.

Time heals all wounds, but the scars seem to always stay.

juanito on September 11, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Across the Middle East tomorrow, there will be people who celebrate the murderers.

Not just in the Middle East. Read The Rage and the Pride by Oriana Fallaci. You’ll see how our “friends” in Europe secretly celebrated too.

atheling on September 11, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Thank you Doc. I thought it was a Cessna too when I heard it on my wakeup radio alarm. I didn’t realize what had happened until I was sent home from work by my boss.

Then I just sort of sat there, staring at the TV in mute horror for an hour, totally unable to look away. I don’t know if our reaction was the best one, but I certainly understand it and realize that we could have done much, much more.

TheUnrepentantGeek on September 11, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Beautiful article. Why is there no option to share this on facebook?

4shoes on September 11, 2009 at 8:52 AM
Thats what I was thinking too. God, this is just beautifully written! Thank you so much for it Doc (Whoever you are ;) It made me cry.

jewells45 on September 11, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Doc you did again. Wish that I could put words to paper with one half of your skill. Your plea for civility and a common American decency in the middle of a memorial such this in a time when so many are willing to forget the day and aborgate our standards speaks volumes. Thank you.

georgeofthedesert on September 11, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Thank you, so very much, Doctor Zero.

The proposition that free men cannot be broken by the will of tyrants is a challenge. No one can look at the rowdy, mismatched, vital, beautiful sea of Americans, and doubt that challenge will forever roar beyond our borders. We will liberate the world, eventually, if the tyrants don’t stop us. The enemy keeps returning to that conclusion… usually a few bloody days before we do.

This expression, this statement of American Spirit, has the same effect on me as Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” speech. Your eloquence and sincerity are inspiring.

ExpressoBold on September 11, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Absolutely beautiful. Thank you. For some reason the tears comes easily today.

SWChance on September 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM

“United 93 may have crashed in the fields of Shanksville, but it came to rest in the sands of Omaha Beach, after gliding over the snow of Valley Forge, and it sleeps beneath the quiet midnight stars of Ia Drang.”

Doc, I am left speechless with tears in my eyes…

With your permission, I am going to send your article to every person I know.

Respectfully,

Seven Percent Solution on September 11, 2009 at 11:37 AM

Excellent essay, Doc Zero! We must not forget what happened on that day, and we must not forget to thank the brave men and women who defend us. Members of my family who have and are serving get my grateful thanks every chance I get.

This is getting forwarded to my e-mail list.

TeeDee on September 11, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Another home run, Doc. God bless you and God bless us all.

Rosmerta on September 11, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Awesome post Doc.

redridinghood on September 11, 2009 at 11:52 PM

Thanks, Doc…I needed that.

Jeff2161 on September 12, 2009 at 8:43 AM


I am embarrassed by what has happened in this country post 9/11 and I blame it on the left/democrats.

Blake on September 11, 2009 at 8:44 AM

I understand – and embrace your emotion.

However – they have, in reality, done nothing that we didn’t allow and/or sanction.

Like a parent that wants to be accepted by their child, and is thus to timid to discipline, our inability to, in one concerted voice, vehemently reject statism has facilitated and given tacit approval of their behavior.

We were naive and trusting …. no more.

oldfiveanddimer on September 14, 2009 at 11:10 AM

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