Category Archives: 9/11

Forgotten Heroes

For many of us, the anniversary of that tragic day 16 years ago is mostly a one-day remembrance when we take time to remind ourselves of all of the lives lost so suddenly at the hands of terrorists.  Even now that there’s no longer a gaping hole in Manhattan, some of those who were first on the scene continue to experience the deadly effects of that day long ago. Just last month, a man who served at Ground Zero passed away from cancer related to his heroic efforts—less than one year after his father, who also had been a 9-11 first responder, lost his own battle with cancer.

The passing of Robert Alexander, 43, in August 2017 and Raymond Alexander, age 76, in November 2016 marks yet another solemn September 11th “first”:  the Alexanders became the first father and son to die years after the Towers fell from cancer linked to the work they did for several weeks afterward as they searched through the ash and rubble.

Ginger Alexander spoke to CNN after the death of her son Robert, and it was with pride that she remembered her son and her husband Raymond.  At the time of the attacks, Raymond was a New York firefighter and Robert was an NYPD officer.  When the two men both came home that night, having survived a day at Ground Zero, she was relieved and figured the worst was behind them.

That was, until 2003 when Raymond became ill.  In fact, between 2003 and 2016, he battled no less than 7 different kinds of cancer, but ultimately he died from lung cancer.  By the time of Raymond’s first diagnosis, Robert had followed in his footsteps and became a firefighter. Tragically, he too fell ill in 2014 when he was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.   His mother fondly recalled a trip they took earlier this year to Germany to visit relatives: “He was starting to stumble a bit while we were there, and when we got home, it started his downhill slide.” Robert ended up in a wheelchair in his final months as the disease took its toll.

Robert had been active in the effort to extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. Named after an NYPD detective who died from a respiratory disease linked to his recovery work at Ground Zero, the act offers compensation and services to those who have suffered from diseases linked to the toxic carcinogens left behind by the attacks.  Robert visited Washington, D.C. in support of the Zadroga Act, even as he was dying from cancer himself.

Ginger Alexander is now left with her other son, Raymond, Jr., to grieve the deaths of these two heroes that were well-loved by family and friends. She hopes people will be inspired by their courage, strength and their big hearts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 7,000 people have been certified in the World Trade Center Health Program as having at least one type of cancer covered by the program.  Of those, the vast majority of them were 9-11 first responders.  Gerald Fitzgerald, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said, “The impact of 9/11 is not over, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be over for a long, long time.  I can’t imagine how the Alexander family feels, but I would hope that the entire country will keep them in their prayers and remember what happened on that terrible day and what continues to go on here in New York.”

Raymond and Robert Alexander: Two generations of 9-11 heroes

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Out of the Ashes

The Cross at Ground Zero in June 2002

The Cross at Ground Zero in June 2002

On September 11, 2001 Sujo John sat at his desk on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. He could hardly believe what the past several months had brought. Having wed Mary in January of 2000, he was still a newlywed and she was four months pregnant with their first child.  Just six months before, the two had left their native Calcutta, India with only $50, a couple of suitcases and dreams of a better, more prosperous life in the United States. In that short time in America, the two had landed good jobs.  Mary worked nearby—on the 71st floor of the WTC’s South Tower.

As he sat typing an email to a friend from church, Sujo confided that he believed God wanted more for him. Having read the Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson, Sujo wrote, “I’ve been chasing stuff in America. I want to be used of God.”  He finished his email and hit “send”.  It was 8:05 on a beautiful Tuesday morning, and it was time to start working. About 40 minutes later, Sujo was sending a fax and heard a huge explosion that we now know was American Airlines Flight 11 striking the North Tower between the 94th and 98th floors.

Down on his floor, Sujo watched as the world seemed to crumble around him- a huge hole allowed him to see ten floors up.  The building shook violently, walls started to fall apart and jet fuel from the planes caused fires to break out everywhere, making every minute more treacherous for those in the building. Sujo made his way to the stairs along with his co-workers and thousands of other workers in the building.  He remembers the people’s faces saying the “fear of death was written on the face of everyone.”

A short time later, he heard another loud crash when United Flight 175 slammed into the South Tower around the 81st floor, just ten floors up from where Mary worked.  Wondering whether he would get out alive, he was now more worried about what was happening with her.  Sujo tried to use his cell phone and those of people escaping down the stairs with him, but he couldn’t get through to her.  By the time he made it to the ground level of the tower, an area called The Plaza, the horrors of that day really hit Sujo.  Normally, The Plaza was a bustling, lively place, but what Sujo saw was beyond human comprehension.  He said, “This place of life, this place of just exuberance where life would be celebrated has now been turned into a place of death, a place of destruction, as I see hundreds of bodies of people that jumped out of those buildings, people who were in those planes.”

As time ticked away and he made his way through the chaos, away from the North Tower towards the South Tower, he felt the ground beneath his feet begin to rumble. Sujo described feeling as if he were being “sucked into a vacuum” as he heard the roar as the upper floors of the South Tower began to crumble.  He stopped momentarily and huddled with a group of 15 or 20 people and suddenly became very concerned of what would become of them if they all died without hearing about Jesus.

Until this point in his life, Sujo described himself as a “closet Christian”, keeping his faith to himself and never sharing what he believed about Jesus Christ.  Now facing death, Sujo found a boldness he never had and began praying out loud, crying out the name of Jesus.  He then realized those people he was with were also joining him in unison as he prayed.  He went on from there, stumbling through the dust and debris, covered in soot and wondering what became of Mary.

After the dust settled somewhat, Sujo decided to try to crawl back to the group of people he had prayed with a short time earlier, only to find they had not made it, and had been crushed by the hurricane-force wind and debris cloud caused by the South Tower’s collapse.  Downhearted and questioning God as to why He would allow him to survive and not them, Sujo said he felt God’s presence and believed those people were at peace now.  After the North Tower followed its twin and imploded, Sujo was shocked and couldn’t believe he was still alive.  He found himself out in the street, certain his beloved Mary was gone.

After wandering into a shop, he met a young woman who helped pull bits of glass out of his hair and offered to call someone for him.  Just as he handed his phone to her, it began to ring for the first time in many hours.  It was about noon by this time, and the clerk handed the phone back to Sujo.  The caller ID said it was from Mary’s number, but he was certain it was going to be the worst news…that someone was calling from her phone to let him know she didn’t survive.

He was wrong.  When he answered, he heard Mary’s voice.  She told him she had wanted to get to work early that day, but ended up running late.  When they reunited that night, they made a vow to each other and to God that they would make every day of their lives count.  Sujo prayed for God to “rewrite the history of my life”.  He knew that he and Mary had not come to America just to make money, pursue success or have financial security.  He believed that what was important to God was people…all people.

Fifteen years later, Sujo and Mary live near Dallas with their three children and have started an organization called You Can Free Us.  This organization works to abolish the modern-day slavery of human trafficking by rescuing women and children forced into prostitution in the U.S. and around the world. As 21st century abolitionists, Sujo and Mary have made good on their promise to God and have taken their message of survival and hope to people of all ages all over the world.

Sujo, Mary and their children

Sujo, Mary and their children

Lost Ground Zero Flag Returns to NYC

Firefighters raise a flag at the World Trade Center in New York on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, as work at the site continues after hijackers crashed two airliners into the center. (AP Photo/The Record, Thomas E. Franklin)

Famous flag finally home at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York   (AP Photo/The Record, Thomas E. Franklin)

In the 15 years since the terrorist attacks in New York City, northern Virginia and Shanksville, PA, many stories—real and unreal—have been told.  Over the years, we’ve been intrigued and inspired by stories of heroic actions, strange “coincidences” that kept people from going to work that day, conspiracy theories and miraculous tales of survival.

Perhaps one of the most amazing stories is the one behind the iconic photo of three firefighters raising the American flag among the ruins of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. What most people don’t know about that flag was that it disappeared just hours after it was put in place, only to be found more than a decade later and nearly three thousand miles from where that famed photo was taken.

On September 11, 2001, the three firefighters from Brooklyn—George Johnson, Dan McWilliams and Billy Eisengrein—could never have known what their spontaneous display of patriotism would mean to the nation.  What was their private tribute to honor all of those whose final resting place was a multi-story pile of steel and cement would become an indelible scene that is now etched onto the collective memory of Americans of a tragic day long ago.  So moving was the photo, it was immediately compared to another momentous flag-raising in American history—the one at Iwo Jima during World War II. The photograph earned a Pulitzer Prize and inspired many artists and was captured on a US postage stamp.

The firefighters didn’t know that as they paid their respects and showed their love of country, photographer Thomas E. Franklin was standing nearby and took the photo late that afternoon for the New Jersey newspaper that he worked for at the time.  It appeared in papers all over the world the next day.

Oddly enough, the flag didn’t belong to any of the fire departments working at Ground Zero.  McWilliams had taken it off of a yacht that was docked nearby on the Hudson River—a vessel called Star of America that was owned by a woman named Shirley Dreifus.  He had sawed off the yardarm holding the flag and the three found a pole to display it about 20 feet off the ground.  It disappeared late that night, and no one knew who took it.  It was assumed that the city took possession of it, and a flag owned by the city and believed to be the flag from the photo was signed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki.

That flag made its rounds all over the world.  It was flown at New York City Hall, Yankee Stadium and aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  After its many adventures, the original owner of the Ground Zero flag—Ms. Dreifus—decided to officially turn it over to the city.  That’s when she noticed that the flag she thought came from her yacht was actually a different size than the one she had. She even started a website in an effort to recover her lost flag. CNN also aired a documentary in 2013 about the mystery of the lost Ground Zero flag.  It was during this filming where video evidence was found that confirmed the flag’s disappearance took place the night of 9/11/01 around 11 p.m.

Flash forward to the fall of 2014 when author, history buff and host of the History Channel’s “Brad Meltzer’s Lost History” enters the picture. He did a story about the missing flag on the show’s first episode, offering a $10,000 reward to the person who had it to turn it in. A few days later, a man who said he was a Marine named Brian turned it in to a fire station in Everett, Washington–more than 2800 miles from Ground Zero.  That news just came out this week because Brian’s flag had to undergo rigorous testing to verify that it had in fact been the one from Ground Zero. After almost two years of experts conducting their research, it passed every test.

According to a report in the Everett Herald, Brian did not give the firefighters his last name when he turned the flag in and didn’t want the reward money.  He reportedly had gotten the flag from an unnamed worker with the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, who had gotten it from one of the 9/11 widows.

Police in Everett have released a composite sketch of the big-hearted Marine named Brian and hope he comes forward to tell the rest of the story of the Ground Zero Flag. The flag was found as mysteriously as it disappeared 15 years ago and now takes its rightful place  at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York just in time for Sunday’s anniversary remembrance.

The History Channel will be airing another special on Sunday night (“America’s 9/11 Flag: Rise From the Ashes”)  hosted by Meltzer and will give all the details on the Ground Zero flag’s strange journey that took it across the country and how the experts were able to verify its authenticity as the flag raised by those three resolute firefighters 15 years ago.

The United Colors of Light

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Today is Flag Day.  Instead of seeing the colors of Old Glory waving proudly, on this Flag Day, most flags are flying at half-staff due to the events at an Orlando nightclub Saturday night when a lone terrorist used a gun to kill 49 innocent people and injured more than 50 others before being shot by police. It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since September 11, 2001.

Fort Hood. Boston. Chattanooga. San Bernardino.  Orlando. Will it ever be time to take Islamic extremists at their word when they say “crazy” things like “Death to America!”?  Or when they promise us after every attack in Europe that they’re coming here to do the same?  When they tell us they are and will continue to infiltrate themselves into the populations of oppressed refugees that legitimately fear for their lives in their homelands?  Why do those who think they know better than us always brush these hate-filled words under the carpet, then whine about needing more gun laws to prevent such tragedies?  As if more laws (instead of enforcing the ones we already have) were the answer.  It wouldn’t have kept the Orlando terrorist from doing what he did.

Some people are even trying to blame Christians for the attack due to The Pulse nightclub being a gay bar. A nut from the ACLU claimed that all of the bills in various states coming out in recent months to protect Christian businesses from lawsuits when they don’t want to participate in same-sex “weddings” are to blame for ratcheting up the hatred against homosexuals.

It’s not about guns…or wedding cakes…it’s not even about being gay (though in this particular incident, that’s the likely motivation for picking this target).  It’s about those who hate our way of life so much, they want it to disappear.

The Elephant in the Room is this:  evil exists and it seeks to destroy.  Just because you refuse to acknowledge it as such doesn’t make it go away. All Westerners– whether here in the US, in Canada, Europe or wherever—have a real enemy in political Islam and those who practice it.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, Jew or a Muslim who isn’t the right kind of Muslim.  It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight or what color skin you have.  It is about radical Islam, though you’ll never hear the president use that phrase.  We may not be at war with them, but they sure as heck are at war with us. .  All you have to do is take them at their word.

Here’s an example. In April of this year, WFTV 9 in Orlando broke a story about an Islamic imam who was coming to speak at the local mosque. A little investigation into this imam found that he had some pretty radical beliefs and was caught on tape back in 2013 expressing those views.  That imam, Sheikh Farrokh Sekaleshfar, is on tape saying how he would deal with homosexuals:  “Death is the sentence. We know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about this, death is the sentence…We have to have that compassion for people, with homosexuals, it’s the same, out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”

Now why didn’t that get any national news coverage back in April?  Given the events of Saturday night/Sunday morning, it seems particularly chilling and is not unlike what Adolf Hitler said of them back in his day.

The guy who shot up The Pulse nightclub saw the world through a prism of hate.  Twisted, disturbed, inhumane.  The only thing that can conquer this kind of darkness is light. The homosexual movement uses the rainbow colors as their flag of solidarity.  When the colors of the rainbow pass through a prism, what comes out the other side is pure, white light—focused and sharp as a laser.

Maybe it’s time for all of us to be that light–to focus more on what we have in common and stand for one another’s right to live, to be free, to speak our minds without fear of being made into some sort of hate-monger.  Unless, of course, like the previously-mentioned imam–you are a hate-monger who talks about killing people.

We don’t have to agree on everything, but can we not at least agree that all lives really do matter, and that the time is coming—and may already be here—when we need to stand together against darkness?

The people who died in Orlando were somebody’s daughters and sons. Whether they were gay or not doesn’t make a difference, just as such things as political party, sexual orientation or skin color didn’t matter in the days after the Twin Towers fell.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Spirit of 93

If you were old enough 14 years ago to remember the events of this day, you probably know exactly where you were and what you were doing. It was a Tuesday, and since then, we’ve seen many Tuesdays come and go. The photos of all those who lost their lives on this day in 2001 slowly faded with time and fell from their places on cement walls and bulletin boards. The phrase “Never Forget” is often seen and heard on this day, only to go away again until next September 11th.

All of those who perished on 9/11/01, their families, friends, and colleagues have a story to tell… and some of those stories have been told many times. Some stories may never be. When it comes to the passengers and crew that boarded Flight 93 on that fateful morning, the names that usually come to mind are Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham and Tom Burnett. They were the men who decided to lead the other passengers in an attempt to re-take their airplane from the terrorists. As a result of the last heroic efforts of many of the passengers, Flight 93 is the only plane that never made it to its intended target, which is now believed to have been the U.S. Capitol building.

Among the other passengers and crew was a former police detective (Cee Cee Lyles, flight attendant); a greeting-card aficionado who always remembered loved ones and co-workers on special occasions…two of whom received cards from her that were postmarked 9-11-01 (Lorraine Bay, flight attendant); an aspiring child psychologist who worked with troubled teens (Deora Bodley); an ironworker who helped to build the World Trade Center and who had served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army (William Cashman); an account executive at Good Housekeeping who was in the middle of writing her own book to inspire women (Lauren Grandcolas). As a side note, Lauren, who was 38, was expecting her first child with her husband Jack at the time of her death. Every year when they read the names of the victims at the memorial service in Shanksville, PA and a bell tolls for each passenger …her unborn child is also recognized among them. Lauren’s two sisters completed her book, titled “You Can Do It: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls.”

Time and space doesn’t permit a complete list, but here are a few more: a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm who later flew humanitarian missions to Somalia (First Officer Leroy Homer); a college-aged Japanese national who was headed home after having visited such American icons as the Statue of Liberty and Niagara Falls who traveled alone so he could immerse himself in the English language (Toshiya Kuge); the Purser on Flight 93 (Deborah Jacobs Welsh) who had more than 25 years of experience in the airline industry. Deborah was known for her compassion that she showed to the homeless who lived near her Manhattan neighborhood when she would bring them leftover airline meals and warm winter clothing.

These are just some of the 40 people who, when they saw evil face-to-face, didn’t sit around asking why the terrorists hated them. They didn’t form committees to try to analyze the evil before them. Time wasn’t on their side and they knew it…and they acted.

The passengers and crew of United 93 could be considered some of the first civilian heroes of the modern-day War on Terror (a term our current president no longer uses). The world has gotten even more dangerous in the 14years since. The same ideology of the hijackers of 9-11-01 is the same ideology that threatens large swathes of the Middle East right now. It now goes by another name than it did in 2001, but it’s still pure evil and it has to be called out for what it is.

Those people could have ignored what was happening before them that day, but it wouldn’t have done them any good…and if they had chosen to sit passively in their seats and accept what was happening, it wouldn’t have turned out any differently for them. On the other hand, but for their fearlessness in the face of terror, that day could have turned out much differently for a lot of other people.

A memorial plaque for the passengers & crew of United Flight 93

A memorial plaque for the passengers & crew of United Flight 93

    

A Legacy in Pictures

usa_sm_halfm2            Before there was Facebook or Twitter or Instagram…long before everyone had a phone that was also a camera, Bill Biggart knew what it was like to look at life through a lens. He was doing it before it became the thing to do. Bill’s work took him all over the world in his career as a photojournalist, but that day 13 years ago found him home in New York.

When the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, a taxi driver passing by him on the street alerted him to the news. He quickly ran home to get two film cameras and one digital camera and walked towards the Twin Towers, snapping pictures as he went. His passion for the people affected by the historical events he covered is evident in his work. He seemed to capture an odd beauty of regular people in irregular circumstances, as in his photos of the people of Northern Ireland struggling for independence in the 1980’s. He was there when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and once again his lens focuses on the people, their faces full of excitement and expectation.

But it was his work from that September day in 2001that most of us would know. If you’ve seen any pictures from 9/11/01, you’ve seen a Bill Biggart picture. Once again, many of them are of people:  the stunned and weary firefighters and shell-shocked office workers who escaped from the towers. A friend and fellow photographer said of him: “One thing Bill taught me was that sometimes the picture is behind you, in the faces of people watching.”

And so it was this passion for the real story as told on the faces of those on the scene, that led him to get as close as he could to where things were happening. Shortly after the South Tower fell (the first to go down), Bill’s wife Wendy called him on his cell phone. He told her not to worry and that he would meet her at his studio 20 minutes later. He reassured her saying, “I’m safe. I’m with the firemen.”

By now you’ve probably guessed that Bill never made it to his studio to meet his wife. He continued taking pictures of the aftermath of the South Tower’s collapse…right up until 10:28 am when the North Tower fell. In fact, his last shot, pictured below, was time-stamped at 10:28:24. Only seconds after he took it, Bill Biggart perished. His camera and press passes where found in the debris four days later.  He was the only professional photographer to be killed covering the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The last photo taken by Bill Biggart of the ruins of the WTC's South Tower, just seconds before the North Tower fell.

The last photo taken by Bill Biggart of the ruins of the WTC’s South Tower, just seconds before the North Tower fell.

His wife Wendy said, “With a press pass around his neck and a camera bag over his shoulder, in the middle of a cross fire – Bill was in heaven.” In his 54 years of life, Bill saw the world and translated what he saw through the lens of a camera. He left the world more than just some really poignant pictures of historical events, however. His life and work leave the rest of us with the idea that people can do what they were born to do. His is an example of a life lived with passion and intention, doing what he loved to do…and he did it until his last breath.

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Wake Up! It’s Monday Again!

“One year like any old other year

In a week like any week

Monday lying down

Half asleep

People doing what people do

Loving, working and getting through

No portraits on the walls

Of Seventh Avenue”

-lyrics to “Tuesday” by Five for Fighting

In a couple of days, we’ll mark another anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people.  It’s also the first anniversary of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi that left our ambassador there dead, along with three brave Americans.  That second incident could never have happened, I’m afraid, without some amount of forgetting about the first one by some people in very high places.  It appears now we may be on the eve of yet another war…this time, though, our brave soldiers will be sent to Syria to fight on the side of the people who took down those two massive towers—and left the lives of thousands changed forever.

Sure, we’re being told that this isn’t going to war, necessarily- just some very precise strikes at certain locations.  Does anyone really believe this?  Given the record of this president and his cohorts, how can we ever trust what they say?  These are the same people who blamed the Benghazi attack on a poorly-made You Tube movie by some guy no one ever heard of (who only recently got out of jail on supposedly “unrelated charges”).

They’re the same people who, to this day, refer to the deadly shootings at Fort Hood in 2009, as an incident of “workplace violence” instead of calling it what it really was.  Just for future reference, Mr. President and Mr. Eric Holder:  when someone shouts “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is greater”) while shooting American soldiers—or while flying planes full of people into buildings full of people—he or she is in full jihadi mode.  It’s called a terrorist attack.

They also ignored warnings from Russian intelligence about the two brothers who executed a successful attack at the Boston Marathon earlier this year where 3 people died and hundreds more sustained life-altering injuries.  At least that one they did see fit to call an act of terrorism, even though they had proclaimed last year that the War on Terror was officially over.  In fact, when Obama became president, he didn’t even want the phrase to be a part of the government’s lexicon, preferring to call the War on Terror an “overseas contingency operation”.  Political correctness gone wild.

Since then, he’s tried to fight multiple wars the PC way, by letting the enemy know in advance when we’ll be leaving the area, not even calling those who want to kill us “enemies” (or acknowledging that there are people who want to kill us), and neither defining nor desiring victory.   Only a horse’s behind could concoct such a motto as “Lead from behind.”

The words from the song noted above were written by John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting.  He captures very well the mindset of Monday, September 10, 2001.  I wouldn’t say we were a nation of innocence and naiveté back then, but compared to what happened on Tuesday and in the years since, it pretty much was an innocent time.

Maybe we’ve forgotten that there was once a time when people who took you to the airport or picked you up could actually go right up to the gate.  Or that getting on a plane didn’t involve removing any articles of clothing or being touched by a total stranger.  The Constitution of the United States has taken a brutal beating over the past twelve years (even before Obama) to the point that the Founding Fathers wouldn’t recognize it or the nation that still claims to be governed by it.

It’s easy and maybe even convenient for those of us who didn’t lose a loved one, either on 9/11/01 or 9/11/12 to allow our memories of these days to fade, only to look back once a year when we’re sure to see some retrospective on a cable news channel.

But for those who lost someone, they live with the results of terrorism every day.  They’d probably give anything for it to be Monday, September 10th  again, just to have one last chance to see, talk to or hug the one they lost.  Many of us haven’t forgotten them, but I’m not so sure about our “leaders”.  It took less than a dozen years to go from Never Forget…to Try to Remember.

 “The thing about memories

They’re sure and bound to fade

Except for the stolen souls

Left upon her blade

Is Monday coming back?

That’s what Mondays do”

Ground Zero in 2006:  Memorial wall listing names of victims of WTC attacks

Ground Zero in 2006: Memorial wall listing names of victims of WTC attacks

***NOTE:  You can listen to “Tuesday” by Five for Fighting HERE.  And watch my video tribute to the victims of 9/11/01 by clicking the “Remembering 9/11/01” photo that is always linked from this page.

You Might be an Extremist If…

If the news that the National Security Administration is spying on all of us didn’t burn you up this summer, maybe this will get your attention.  The Department of Defense released a training document (thanks to the efforts of Judicial Watch) that teaches our military men and women how to recognize extremists in and outside of the Armed Forces.

What’s wrong with that?  Nothing…until you start to read the document.  To begin, it relies heavily on information provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-left organization that defines any group or individual that disagrees with them as extremists.  Conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council and the American Family Association are lumped in with true extremists and hate-mongers like the skinheads as far as the SPLC is concerned.  In fact, in August of 2012, when the headquarters of the Family Research Council was attacked by a lone gunman, he later admitted that he targeted the employees of that organization because he saw it listed on the SPLC’s website for being “anti-gay”.  As you can see, the SPLC has some radical supporters of its own.

In the DoD’s training document, it gives examples of what it calls “extremist ideologies and movements” and gives two examples from history: “ The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”(page 43).  The document gets even broader in what it defines as extremist:  “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.” (page 45). (The last thing we need are more people who want to make the world a better place!)

This is why leftists routinely say that anyone who speaks of freedom, liberty or states’ rights is speaking “code words” to hide their racist beliefs.  When the training manual describes the ultimate racist group, the Ku Klux Klan and gives its history, it mentions that it was a Christian organization, yet doesn’t mention that it was started by white Democrats.  It lists September 11, 2001 as an “historical event” tied to al-Qaeda, but neglects to mention who al-Qaeda is:  followers of Islamic sharia law.

Speaking of al-Qaeda, a separate document released by the Pentagon was obtained by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty within days of the first document that Judicial Watch had found.  This second document goes so far as to link Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism with the same religious extremism as al-Qaeda and Hamas!

It’s plain to see what Obama’s Department of Defense thinks of conservatives, people who talk about personal liberty and religious people (namely, Catholics and Evangelicals).  In fact, it seems to be a pattern throughout the administration:  the IRS giving extra scrutiny to conservative and pro-life groups; the Obamacare mandate forcing employers to pay for birth control, even those opposed to it for religious reasons; the hostility shown to military members who wish to share their faith—the list grows with each passing day.

One more thing about that document:  it lists several personality traits or tendencies of extremists that sound all-too-familiar.  Some of the traits are:  character assassination, name calling and labeling, the use of sweeping generalizations, use of slogans and buzzwords and assumption of moral superiority over others.  Sounds to me like the Obama 2012 election campaign strategy.

My favorite was the  last extremist tendency:  the advocacy of double standards:  “Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view generously, and their critics and opponents by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours”.

Now that sounds like Al Gore.

Right-wing extremist in prayer.

Right-wing extremist in prayer.

The News We Never Hear

A few months ago, I wrote a post called “The Ugly Truth” where I wrote about the infiltration of members of the Muslim Brotherhood into the highest levels of our government, including the State Department and Homeland Security. This infiltration is part of the plan of the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy the West from within, as stated in one of the organization’s own documents known as The Project. They’ve been working their plan…and unfortunately for freedom-loving people, their plan is working.
Even as the “Arab Spring” was happening in early 2011, the Obama administration and the media—wait, those are one in the same—were telling us this movement was mostly “peaceful” and would usher in democracies in these nations. What took hold instead –namely in Egypt– was the Muslim Brotherhood, which we were told was a “largely secular” organization.  Not so.  They are deeply committed to the goals of political Islam, including implementation of worldwide “sharia law”.
When we found ourselves on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001 a couple of weeks ago, it became another day of violence and death for 4 Americans, including our ambassador to Libya. Instead of calling this what it was from the beginning—a planned terrorist attack against our interests in a foreign country—Obama and friends wanted us to believe the violence was the result of protests against a You Tube video that no one until that time had even seen. The video supposedly makes the prophet Mohammed look bad, and so was offensive to Muslims.
We were supposed to believe that all of these protests just happened to break out on September 11th and that a poorly-written, poorly-acted video that had been on You Tube since July was the culprit behind all the mayhem and the deaths. Then came the calls for Google to remove the video from You Tube, but they refused saying that it didn’t violate their standards. The unknown film director was taken in by federal authorities and questioned on a “separate matter”. One of the actresses (I use the term loosely) also tried to get Google to take it down, saying that the director had misled her and now she was getting death threats (the judge ruled against her). Google has since blocked the video’s access to countries like Egypt and Cairo- as if most of those causing trouble watched it anyway. They were much too busy burning our flag and shouting, “Death to America!”
The calls for some suspension of our First Amendment freedom of speech aren’t just coming from random protesters in far-away countries who hate us, although that’s definitely the case. They’ve been coming for some time from the far left in our country, who blames conservative talk radio anytime a lone gunman walks into a public place and murders people. Just yesterday Slate.com posted an article called “The World Doesn’t Love the First Amendment”. The article is attempting to make the case that, since we are now a global society linked by the new media, we need to think about what might be offensive to people in other countries who do not have our constitutional freedom of speech.
Since when does everyone on the face of the earth have the right to NOT be offended? What’s a joke to one, offends another. What’s art to this person is blasphemy to that person. Who will decide? That’s where the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Project” comes in. If you were to read The Project, you would know that in order to achieve their goal of one world under Islam, they must silence any opposition—including that of the moderate followers of Islam.
Are you aware that this week, as the United Nations General Assembly continues, members of several Muslim nations are calling for a UN worldwide blasphemy law that bans any insults of the prophet Mohammed? They’ve wanted this for years, but are now using the bad You Tube video for leverage in pleading their case.
Did you further know that Hillary Clinton has already given support to a so-called “religious tolerance” resolution (Resolution 16/18 of the UN’s Human Rights Council) in conjunction with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation ? This has already occurred, so it’s not just some conspiracy theory which we can brush off and say, “That will never happen.” What else can we expect from the Secretary of State whose “right-hand woman” has very close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood?
It took the Obama administration more than a week to finally admit the attacks on our embassies were terrorist attacks. He said as much yesterday on “The View”, but even after that appearance, he spent a lot of time in his speech to the UN last night talking about that stupid video!  His speech also included this little gem of a statement:  The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.  But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”  Wasn’t it nice that he threw that bone to Christians and Jews?  Judging by his actions, his mindset is more in line with the Muslim Brotherhood than with that of the prime minister of Israel or the Pope.
Michelle Malkin has a really good article today related to this topic (“Who Is White House Visitor Hisham Altalib?”). I encourage you to read it and to decide whether you believe this is enough of a threat to our nation to tell others about it. If you’re reading this and you still believe that it doesn’t matter who wins the election in November, you need to wake up and smell the coffee…quickly! You’ve not been paying attention to the signs of the times and have a lot of catching up to do before then.

A Haven for Heroes

On another Tuesday morning eleven years ago today, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center cast their final shadows over the neighboring buildings in lower Manhattan.  Before noon that day, the shadows would be gone, and so were the towers.  The world– and the New York City skyline– had changed forever.

One small, unassuming building that miraculously escaped the effects of the collapse of the towers and the resulting hurricane of debris and humanity was St. Paul’s Chapel.  As the oldest continuous-use public building in New York City, it survived the burning of New York in September 1776 when the British re-took the city from the Continental army.  Back then, St. Paul’s was saved by a bucket brigade.  Flash forward to 2001, and it was saved by a 100-year-old sycamore tree that bore the brunt of the towers’ collapse, shielding the small building as if Divine Providence were saving it for a special purpose.

Within days of the terrorist attacks in 2001, St. Paul’s became a place of refuge for the rescuers.  Due to its close proximity to Ground Zero, rescue and recovery workers would make their way to the chapel where they found a hot meal, massage therapists to soothe their aching muscles, and people to pray with them and for them to soothe their aching souls.  Some would just come to rest or sleep in the pews after long hours of working in “the pit” that was Ground Zero.  One police officer called St. Paul’s an “oasis of heaven in the midst of hell.”

Exhibit inside St. Paul’s Chapel memorializes those who died.

Volunteers from all faiths and walks of life came from around the country to help the helpers.  This ministry to the workers at Ground Zero continued for several months until the recovery work officially ended in May 2002.

This wasn’t the first time in its history that St. Paul’s filled an important role as a place for reflection and worship for citizens and leaders following a traumatic time.  Another American hero made his way to the doors of the chapel on a day long before 9-11.  Before attending a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s in April 1789, President George Washington was inaugurated just a short walk away from the chapel in Federal Hall (on Wall Street).  At that time, the nation’s capital was New York City.  Having just come through the war for our independence, the young nation and its citizens were in need of direction and an uplifting sentiment from their new leader (much like the days following the attacks).  In his inaugural address, Washington stated:

“No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

George Washington sat here: this is where our first president prayed and worshiped at St. Paul’s during his time in New York.

The same could be said of the little chapel that survived the fall of the Twin Towers.  Today, St. Paul’s Chapel remains, as always, a place of worship, but also serves as sort of a mini-museum to where the events of September 11, 2001 can be remembered and reflected upon by all who visit there.  Several exhibits memorialize those who perished, and pay tribute to the brave police officers, firemen and other first-responders who put themselves in harm’s way in order to save others.

Another St. Paul’s exhibit: police and fire departments from all over the world sent their badges and other items in support of the workers at Ground Zero.