About 7,300 days.
Time enough to encompass a youthful lifespan. Time enough to grow up, grow tired, grow old.
Many of us have done all three.
For 2,977 victims on Sept. 11, 2001, time stopped and eternity beckoned.
For the 19 terrorist hijackers who thought they would become martyrs, history now regards them as murderers.
For the paradise they thought they were promised, there is instead perdition.
For the “masterminds,” there has been manipulation of our justice system. Pre-trial hearings for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four other alleged Sept. 11 plotters just opened at Guantanamo Bay on Sept. 7 of this year.
For the elites who offered legal aid to the “masterminds,” there is an insistence on constitutional rights for enemy combatants but an unwillingness to extend the same to lawful citizens.
For “sophisticates” at the alphabet networks, there was a refusal to wear American flag lapel pins on camera in the days and months following the Sept. 11 attacks, because it would suggest “favoritism.”
For common-sense Americans, there was no confusion between patriotism and favoritism, nor between survival or suicide.
For George W. Bush, it was a shock that he put in historical context: “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today,” he dictated into the White House daily log, upon his return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
For the Bush administration, clarity of purpose was modified by the muddle of multiculturalism; thus the “war on terror,” rather the “the war on Islamic terror.”
For “official Washington,” there was an initial imperative to remember the first role of government: protection of its citizens. Sadly, it didn’t last.
For “bureaucratic Washington,” a subsequent, unfortunate imperative: expanding the role of government — more agencies, more spending, more bureaucrats — leading to less protection of citizens.
For “political Washington,” initial unity — soon sacrificed on the altar of ambition. In its place, a strange type of unanimity. At the behest of major financial institutions, agribusiness and multinational corporations, “establishment” officeholders basked in media adulation by claiming that we could not stem the flow of illegals across our southern border and that we had to allow illegal aliens from Mexico to open bank accounts using a matricula consular — a form of ID issued by the Mexican consulate.
These same officeholders still use the poll-tested phrase, “We must secure the border!”
But the fact that such sloganeering endures while definitive action has come in fits, starts, and now a full stop, simply reinforces the reality that elected officials view this as a political problem to be managed — instead of a national security threat to be removed.
And what of our national security apparatus — the Pentagon, intelligence agencies and the Department of State? Apparently influenced by politics and culture, it seems that the notion of “victory” has been replaced by “virtue signaling.” From the outset of our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, we tried to achieve two very different goals at the same time: destruction and reconstruction.
Because the terror threat was not eliminated, our military shifted its focus to force protection. As we took up occupation of both countries, that changed our military posture from offensive to defensive, putting targets on the backs of our warriors and ensuring stalemate in the best of situations.
As just witnessed, the occupation of Afghanistan ended in calamity. Joe Biden ordered our military to leave, and left Americans behind in the process. Now, that same Joe Biden has spoken at Sept. 11 ceremonies in New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. It is problematic that the commander-in-chief who ordered us to flee tried to extol the virtues of our “land of the free.”
It all but ensures that his successor — or that Mr. Biden himself — will one day say, “The 9/11 of the 2020s took place today.”
If Joe can remember it.