The Terms of War
“Never Forget” is a maxim which before 2001 was often associated with victims of the Nazi Holocaust; millions murdered initially recklessly, then with surgical-like precision.
In the wake of September 11th, it gained renewed relevance, especially in our community, regarding public safety workers, especially firefighters killed at “Ground Zero.”
“Ground Zero” is another appropriated term from WWII referring to the exact point of the bomb strike in Hiroshima.
That Ground Zero signaled the end of a war, and ours, the beginning of one.
Today, “Never Forget” also refers to the thousands of “Ground Zero” survivors and workers who suffer from health problems as a result of their time spent on the “pile”, the term used to describe the ruins in the aftermath of the collapse.
September 11th and those who perpetrated it, begat our longest war, now in its 17th year.
As of this month, 2,416 U.S. service members have died and a staggering 20,000 have been wounded, many of whom will bear scars and suffer pain for the remainder of their lives.
The War in Afghanistan has become disconnected from 9/11, probably due to the passage of time but also because of the drift in mission.
Nevertheless, members of the military in Afghanistan have a direct connection and bond with those who died on 9/11 and those who still suffer from their service there.
The US goal in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) was to root out and destroy Al-Qaeda and to bring Osama Bin Laden to Justice.
Those things happened but we stayed around long enough to draft a new enemy, the Taliban, who shows all the signs of winning the war, our best efforts to the contrary.
Bin Laden, on September 11, 2001, hoped to destabilize or destroy American institutions such as freedom, equality and civil society.
Ironically, we now find ourselves in the 17th year of a war in a country which does not even identify with either equality or civil law.
Bin Laden failed in America yet indirectly induced Americans to fight and die for a country which eschews the values we hold most dear.
US-backed Afghanistan is riven with tribal and ethnic strife, is famously corrupt, and is now being bested by the Taliban who want a state controlled by harsh religious law and who routinely use suicide bombers to indiscriminately kill civilians.
On this anniversary, it’s important to remember that the war which began in Lower Manhattan still drags on with no clear purpose, no end in sight and with a horrible toll of human destruction.