Nearly everyone has a story about their remembrances of Sept. 11, 2001. This seminal moment is at the head of the list along with the assassination of President Kennedy, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the first human walking on the surface of the moon.
Of course, you have to have been born around 1945 to have a somewhat similar perspective.
In August 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. I was stationed in California with the F-4G Wild Weasel radar hunter/killer defense suppression aircraft and deployed to Sheik Isa Air Base on the island nation of Bahrain as part of the initial response known as Desert Shield.
In short order, that base became the hub of operations of not just the Wild Weasels, but also about one-third of the U.S. Marine Corps fighter aircraft. My stay was short-lived as I was ordered back to the States to take another assignment.
From that assignment, I ended up temporarily back in Saudi Arabia flying out of Riyadh as the command element on a sophisticated surveillance aircraft during Desert Storm. Several years later, I retired from active duty and soon became a civilian contractor providing advisory and assistance services to the U.S. Air Force.
Specifically, I was a technical writer supporting the production of operational requirement documents for improved or new command and control systems.
On Sept. 9, 2001, I flew from Minnesota to Washington National Airport - observing the Pentagon during our final approach for landing. I rented a car and drove to Hampton, Virginia, for work at Langley Air Force Base involving a collaborative writing session related to command and control.
We were supposed to return to the Pentagon the following week.
On the morning of 9/11/2001, we were interrupted by someone coming into the conference room and telling us to turn on the TV shortly after the first impact. As things were beginning to sink in, we watched as the second aircraft struck the other tower.
We were almost numb as we tried to absorb the sights and implications of what we were witnessing.
We all knew we would be going to war in Iraq.
What I don’t think many of us understood at that time were the long-term implications of the subsequent war and its aftermath.
At this time, it appears the Taliban are in control of much, if not all, of Afghanistan. Al-Quida is an organization with similar goals and is active in the country too, and ISIS - the Islamic State that is predominantly active in Iraq and Syria, was supposedly responsible for the suicide bombing near the Kabul Airport last month.
Toss in this mix the likely duplicitous actions of Saudi Arabia and the thinly disguised hostility of Iran and we have a situation that is rife for missteps, misunderstanding and enormous mistakes.
No matter which side of the social spectrum you are on and no matter which party you support or will not support, we are all facing an enemy who seeks the ultimate goal of destroying us - the great Satan.
The enemy is not by any measure civilized as defined or understood by western society. Their culture and ethos virtually permit them to lie, cheat and steal if that leads to achieving their goals.
Can we handle the truth that they cannot always be trusted?
We are so naïve when we think it’s important for people to like us. I worked with and for many senior leaders in the military. I truly liked a few, I respected many more. True, some of that respect had more than a tinge of fear associated with it.
After the events of the last month, I don’t perceive too many nations have any fear of the United States. They certainly have lost much of their respect for us, which may take a long time to recover.
Meantime, our president and his party are poised to wreak havoc on our own economy while we citizens hopefully focus on anything but that and Afghanistan.
Although the subject matter is entirely different, long ago Alan Paton wrote a book titled "Cry, The Beloved Country. " That title seems to fit the United States today.
That’s how I see it.