In Memoriam

September 11, 2001

Five years later, we’re all remembering where we were that day, what we were doing, how we heard the news that our beloved Nation had been attacked by terrorists. I was at home in the back end of the house and Rusty was in the living room watching Good Morning America. He hollered to me that something was happening in New York, and I came in and saw the tape replay, and watched and watched…

It felt like perhaps the prelude to Armageddon. This sort of thing was not supposed to be happening in our country, it was so horrific.

I still think the President was wrong about one thing — he repeatedly calls terrorists “cowardly.” I don’t think they’re cowardly. It takes a particular kind of courage, or at least carelessness, to blow oneself up for a principle. No, what the terrorists are, is evil, an evil we are not accustomed to facing here, to even acknowledging exists.

So here we are. Several of my friends’ sons have been overseas, a couple of friends’ husbands… one of my old schoolmates flies choppers for the National Guard and has been in Afghanistan.

Back home, I go into convenience stores up in Raleigh … operated by Arabs. I remember the days when I was travelling with Rusty; I stopped between NC and Louisiana several trips at several different hotels over the year and a half, and they were operated by Arabs. One of them had a fundraiser jar on the counter for a charity to benefit orphans and other needy children — the same sort of fundraiser we heard after 9/11 was being used as a front in order to raise money for the terrorists’ activites. I was glad I had told the desk clerk that I support work for the poor through my own church.

I know there are Christian Arabs. I know that being an Arab is not an automatic link to terrorism. But I’m afraid. The men who commandeered the airplanes on 9/11/01 might have been students with me at Guilford, or clerks at the convenience store where I bought my gas, or at the hotel where Rusty and I stopped over on our wedding trip. I am afraid now of people who have a different ethnic base than my own; it feels as if they are infiltrating the country, and that some day soon, on a given signal, they will all rise up in a frenzied jihad and our American streets will begin to run with blood.

Meantime, there is that outrageous faction of American culture that embraces death, that deconstructs history and proclaims from our college and university campuses, and even from our high schools, that it is our own fault the Muslim extremists hate us so violently. We have become the “evil empire” even within our own borders, to our own citizens.

We are at war; but how can we fight such a war as this? The war of misinformation and deceit? The war of Me First and Self-Esteem over responsibility? The war in which the Evil One presents sin as heroic and virtue as neurosis and disorder? The war of demonic proportions that seems bent toward the sacrifice of our own god-fearing culture?

I feel helpless at times. I will do my best to be faithful where I am, but it isn’t enough. We are trying to do too much in solitude, in isolation; we do not have enough of a sense of unity from within our own ranks, because these are things we cannot freely talk about. This is not a war about two nations opposing one another, but of two philosophical paradigms — one out to destroy the other, the other sometimes frighteningly slow to demonstrate its determination to thrive and to contain the other in its own small geographic confines.

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