Brent Batten: The lost feeling of 9-11




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What do you remember about Sept. 11, 2001?

The horror of watching the burning towers collapse, knowing thousands were trapped inside?

The awe-inspiring courage of the passengers of Flight 93?

As we look back 10 years later each of us remembers where we were when we heard the news. We still remember feeling anger, helplessness and grief.

But there was something else that one can’t help but wonder if we’ve forgotten.

It was articulated best that day and in the days that followed by President George W. Bush.

From the Oval Office the night of the tragedies:

“These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong ... These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”

“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.”

On Sept. 20, in a speech to a joint session of Congress:

“My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our Union, and it is strong. Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”

“Our war on terror begins with al-Qaida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

“We will direct every resource at our command - every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war - to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

“I know many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.”

“We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”

“Our resolve must not pass.”

“I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest.”

And on Oct. 7, as air strikes in Afghanistan commenced:

“Given the nature and reach of our enemies, we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose.”

“In the months ahead, our patience will be one of our strengths ... patience and understanding that it will take time to achieve our goals; patience in all the sacrifices that may come.”

“The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail. Thank you. May God continue to bless America.”

In addition to the shock and sadness so clear today in our memories, there was resolve.

Resolve to scrub the stain of terrorism off the world map. To not only find those responsible for the 9-11 attacks but to defeat the scourge wherever it lurked, however it manifested itself.

Today, as we argue over budgets and fret over jobs, that resolve has given way to bickering amongst ourselves over problems that, while not insignificant, pale in comparison to what befell us that day as a nation.

It is now considered impolitic to show pictures of the World Trade Center on fire. It is bad form to observe aloud that the extremists who hate us are invariably Islamic.

In our 10-year war on terrorism - are we even supposed to call it that anymore? - there have been missteps. No war, with the chaos and confusion that is inherent in the undertaking, is free of them. But do missteps justify lost resolve?

Today, 10 years after the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon burned and Flight 93 plunged to earth, let us remind ourselves that we are in a long fight unlike any other in our history.

Let us resolve, once again, not to waver, not to tire and not to fail.

Connect with Brent Batten at

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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