Nearly sixty-five years ago naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan killed 2,403 American military men and 68 civilians. In the aftermath, President Roosevelt, nearly all Americans and all but one member of Congress knew that such an atrocity did not permit negotiations but permitted only one outcome – absolute victory and the unconditional surrender of those who perpetrated the attack. Regrettably, enemy lives would be lost including conscript soldiers and civilians, but that was the certain outcome of the actions of the government they abetted and not the choice of the American people.
Five years ago the terrorist forces of Islamic extremism killed at least 2,973 Americans, mostly civilians. In the aftermath, President Bush, nearly all Americans and all but one member of Congress knew that such an atrocity did not permit negotiations but permitted only one outcome – absolute victory and the unconditional surrender of those who perpetrated the attacks. Regrettably, enemy lives have been lost and will continue to be, including the civilians who hide and shelter the forces of Islamist terrorism, but that is the certain outcome of the actions of those they abet and not the choice of the American people.
Speaking to Congress nine days later, President Bush said these words:
It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We’ll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We’ll remember the moment the news came — where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.
The resolve of America did not pass in World War II, when 16 million Americans served in the military and over 400,000 of them died, when Allied military losses passed 17 million military and 33 million civilians. With time and grace the grief of five years ago is slowly receding, but shame on us if we allow our resolve as a nation to pass in this fight.
The photo above is 11-year old Bernard Curtis Brown, a passenger on American Flight 77. If he had not been killed, Bernard could have gotten his drivers license this year, graduated from high school in just a couple more.
For anyone whose resolve needs more of a reminder than that, three online memorials list the victims: