Never Forget

Never Forget.

Yes, that’s good advice, but there’s more to be said and remembered.

I look back, and I’ll never forget how I felt watching it unfold live on that small 19″ office TV screen, the heart-wrenching fall of the Towers, the horror of people jumping from windows a hundred stories high, the rising smoke from the Pentagon where some of my coworkers were meeting that day, the somber feeling of walking out of the office hours early, being told to go sequester ourselves away from our DC-area military base where terrorists might also strike at any moment, the resulting feeling of isolation merged with fear for our nation.

But I will also never forget our collective rage against an entire religion. Being told a billion other humans wanted nothing more than for the Great Satan to die at their suicidal hands. That the entire Muslim religion was hateful, rage-filled, implacable enemies. I remember what our nation did based on that diatribe. We banded together – not out of love for our nation, but out of fear of another people. We sent tens of thousands of young men into Muslim lands, and far more than twice as many American soldiers (7,000) and even more American contractors (8,000) died as were killed by those handful of religious nationalist zealots. And nearly 200,000 allied Afghan and other Middle Eastern soldiers fighting on our behalf were also killed. Estimates are that 4.5 million people have died as a result of American aggression based on our fear and anger, no matter how righteous it may have been.

But I’ve been learning that the Muslim religion is not what we were told. Just like a fairly small group of Christian-identifying armor-wearing pepper-spray-wielding men were willing to violently attack the US Capitol on 1/6/21, which horrified most American Christians, the actions of those 9/11 terrorists truly appalled most Muslims, and the interpretation of the Koran calling for that violence is just as controversial in Islam as anyone claiming the Christian God would still today sanction the genocide we see in the Old Testament Exodus stories.

So yes, I will never forget what was done to us. But I also think it’s well beyond time to repent of our response, and Never Forget what happens when a people collectively lash out in anger and fear, and vow to do our best to never repeat that mistake.

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