I used to wonder when my father told his war stories — discussing the hardships he and friends endured during a time that felt so foreign to me — what it would be like to live in a time when everybody needed one another. To live in a time when a nation stood united against a common enemy state and people worked together to ensure the safety of their own nation.
My father served in the Marine Corp during WWII and the Korean War. I would listen to his stories and see the look in his eyes when he remembered friends long gone who lost their lives on battlefields so far from home. On September 11, however, our enemy wasn’t a state actor, like Japan or Germany, but an ideology followed by people who lived in the shadows among us.
September 11 was our war. It is still our war. It changed everything for me and ultimately changed the direction and course of my life. I believe it did that to everyone.
For me the desire to do something about what happened that fateful day was born out of my childhood growing up in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I was very familiar with Islam, extremism and that region of the world.
I also remember being a little girl playing in the open markets in Jeddah. I can still remember the spices, the freshly baked pita bread, Falafels frying in pans along the streets, the fish market and the world that seemed so vastly different than the one I came from in America. I remember the comfort of hearing the call to prayer being sung from the mosque in the early morning hours and wondering which Imam’s voice was being carried by the wind as it mixed with the smells of the mysterious Red Sea. Those sounds and smells brought me comfort and familiarity that only a child can understand.
So on that morning when the planes first struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 I was stunned but not completely surprised. I was living in California at the time and it was extremely early in the morning when I received a call from my mother saying that the first plane had struck the World Trade Center. At that point in time we thought it might just be an accident but then when the second plane hit the north tower in my heart I knew that it was terrorist attack and one that would change my life.
By the time the plane hit the Pentagon and then the last of the planes crash in a field in Pennsylvania, most of the world realized that this was a terrorist action that would fundamentally change not only our nation but the way we operate in the world forever.
I needed to understand. We needed to understand why these mainly Saudi men would follow an ideology and a leader so extreme that they would be willing to sacrifice not only their lives but the lives of innocent people. Their actions would drag us into seemingly endless wars and lead to the deaths of U.S. service members, civilians and eventually a restructuring of our geopolitical system in the Middle East and South Asia.
I decided to be a journalist. I went back to school. I trained. I went to work covering local news, then border and national security and eventually became a Pentagon war correspondent.
I traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world year after year, sometimes twice a year for months documenting stories, interviewing troops and civilians in an attempt to understand what happened on that fateful day. I covered terrorism, extremism and have spent my life trying to understand this new and dangerous enemy.
In one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan I met my future husband, who at that time was fighting the enemy and doing his part to honor those who lost their lives. He didn’t want the enemy coming back to America – he wanted to fight them on their own turf.
He was part of the roughly one-percent of American volunteers who were willing to go to battle to protect everything that makes our nation the envy of the world. Then in April, 2011, in a direct battle with an enemy terrorist in Afghanistan, my husband lost his eyesight. The enemy, however, lost his life.
I ask him often if he would do it again. He says yes. He is my hero and I know his actions have saved many lives.
September 11, was the beginning of our generations war. It wasn’t my father’s war but it was just as significant in the sense that we came to a realization that we have to rely on one-another to protect and keep our nation safe for future generations of Americans.
As I watch what is happening to our nation now it breaks my heart. We are becoming each others enemies. It shouldn’t be this way. Our actions now on the streets of Portland, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago and Kenosha, Wisconsin, just to name a few, don’t reflect the greatness of our nation and the goodness that we are capable of.
September 11, did change everything for me and I know it did for so many others. I still live with those changes and that day in my heart.
I live not only with the horror of that day but with the incredible patriotism and love that we showed one-another the weeks, months and years following that horrific attack.
That’s who we are as Americans. That’s where we need to be again.
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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’
Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social, “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”
Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”
It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.
Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.
And the escalation of war is visible.
Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.
Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.
Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”
Morning. Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.
— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) January 26, 2023
The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”
F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.
Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.
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