Home Virginia Politics Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning, 9/11/11

Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning, 9/11/11


Below are several Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, September 11, 2011. First, however, a few thoughts on this day.

Ten years ago this morning, the United States was attacked by a warped, extremist (and, I’d point out, an utter perversion of the great world religion known as Islam), ultra-violent, nihilistic group of thugs known as Al Qaeda. Today, ten years later, those thugs are mostly dead, captured, scattered to the winds, or reduced to impotence, their “ideology,” such as it is, largely rejected by the very people they were trying to convert, their objectives and tactics overwhelmingly discredited. Of course, threats remain in this world of ours, and always will, including both from state and non-state actors (e.g., terrorist groups of all kinds), using “conventional” weapons and also, potentially, “unconventional” ones as well. Needless to say, we must remain vigilant and prepared against these threats, but never obsessed or consumed.

In the end, of course, we must realize that no nation, the United States included, can or will ever achieve 100% security, let alone a total defeat of its enemies (also keep in mind, today’s “enemy” can be tomorrow’s good friend, as happened with the Germany and Japan of the 1940s). The bottom line is that absolute security is simply impossible — and even if it were, it would be ruinous economically, and in other ways, to attempt to achieve. Instead, what we should strive for and what we can achieve – with smart leadership, as well as with a public that is both informed and engaged – is a reasonable level of security, one that allows us to maintain our (generally) open and free political and economic systems, as well as our values and our long-term prosperity.

Perhaps most importantly, we should never let fear cause us to overreact, to paint entire groups of people (e.g., Muslims) with an inaccurate broad brush, to become in any way “like them,” or to lower our standards from the high ideals laid out in our great founding documents – life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, the rule of law, etc.  

Today, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, let us all rededicate ourselves to living up to those ideals, to setting an example — the “shining city on the hill” metaphor springs to mind – that people all around the world will want to emulate. Today, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, let us reject everything the 9/11 attackers stood for and hoped to accomplish. In the end, that will be our best revenge for what they did that day — their utter defeat, in every way, shape and form, as we go on with our lives, building our futures, and looking back on those failed, miserable, angry people (if we choose to think of them at all!) with the pity, scorn, and contempt that they deserve.

*Security boosted in both D.C. and N.Y. ahead of 9/11 anniversary

*Editorial: Assessing the legacy of 9/11 (“The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11have left behind lingering compromises to American values.”)

*Sept. 11, 2011: Coming of age in a time of war

*Local firefighters remember, 10 years later

*The long road to recovery

*From security to health services, how 9/11 changed us

*9/11 reshaped Virginia politics

*Hampton Roads veterans recall what they did on 9/11

*A day of terror, and its impact

*Moment of silence will mark 10 years since Pentagon attack (“Friends, families of those killed will gather for private ceremony”)

*Fairfax County Police Vigilant in Wake of Possible Terror Threat (“Metro, airport, local police staying alert; ask residents to report any suspicious activity”)

*Washington Post 9/11 section

  • Dan Sullivan

    to this cowardly act. Unfortunately, their “leaders” did not. The first responders were out front putting their lives on the line, while those at the highest levels went missing. America’s recovery from this tragedy has been the result of our strength as a nation, not from the strategy put in place in response.

    Americans can be proud and reassured that we are recovering despite the obstacles placed in our path by those who took advantage of tragedy to pursue an agenda that had nothing to do with responding to this grievous insult.

    “Living up to those ideals” is the crux of the challenge. It is most helpful when the leadership of the nation works with us to achieve that goal.

  • kindler

    …the next threat. Instead, we focus obsessively on the last one, e.g., forcing millions of air travelers to take off their shoes because we had one stupid failed shoe bomber.

    It doesn’t necessarily take a rocket scientist to figure out what the next threat will be — just look at where we are most vulnerable. And the clear answer is: cyberspace. Take some of the recent hacking incidents as an omen — now, rather than after the fact the way we talk about bombing of the USS Cole, etc. That is where we should be targeting major security resources, infiltrating and studying hacker and spammer networks and learning how to counter them — before they figure out how to bring down our whole computer and Internet-based society.

    Are we doing that?  I doubt it.  It’s not as visible as physical security measures and therefore less politically rewarding in the short term — and perhaps the #1 flaw of modern Americans is our failure to think beyond the short term.  


    ·         As we gather here today, let us all invoke a moment of silence in memory of those 184 men, women, and children… innocents all… who lost their lives on this fateful day… a decade ago… when terrorists plunged Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

    ·         Let us also remember the many heroes that day at the Pentagon.  Not only our dedicated firefighters, police officers, and medics who put their lives on the line, but also the many civilians and military personnel who rose to the crisis and risked their own lives to help and comfort the injured.

    ·         We will not forget the thousands who lost their lives at the World Trade Center and in a rural field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania… but today let us dwell on the memories of our Northern Virginia family members, loved ones, friends, coworkers, and neighbors who were killed in this senseless act of violence in the nation’s second worst act of terrorism in history.

    ·         I think all of us remember where we were and what we were doing when we first learned of the 9-11 attacks.  It is seared in our memory.

    ·         I was a County Supervisor at the time, and my office was adjacent to Fairfax Fire Station 30.  Those firefighters were among the many first responders who worked at the Pentagon that day.  I can still remember their faces as they described what they saw and what caused it.

    ·         I recall the utter beauty of that day…  The skies were brilliantly clear… the air was crisp… it was the transition from summer to fall… not too hot… not too cold.

    ·         But the juxtaposition of that glorious day with the horror we witnessed directly and saw on television will always stay with me.  It was a jarring and unsettling experience.

    ·         I remember how the schools were locked down… and although parents were assured their kids were OK… and told to stay away… human nature trumped all rules and regulations of emergency preparedness.  All over our area, parents jumped in their cars, their vanpools, buses, and trains to rush home, pick up their kids, and hug them.

    ·         The vivid and intense mortality we all experienced that day drove people to want to physically touch and be with someone they loved.  Years later, as chairman of the emergency preparedness council for the national capital region, I would always my remind my colleagues that you can’t conquer human nature so don’t develop emergency plans that run counter to human behavior… because it won’t work.

    ·         So, too, does human nature govern how we cope with the terrible loss suffered by the families of the 9-11 victims and our community on that fateful day a decade ago.

    ·         In a sense, grief is forever.  We try the best we can to become functional again and get on with our lives… but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel grief or revisit grief, particularly on days such as this dark anniversary.

    ·         September 11, 2011 was an all-too-real and intense loss for those who lost a loved one, but it was also a loss felt by our entire community.  At every solemn event in the following months… at schools, fire houses, police stations, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, neighborhood meetings, and civic events… all of us experienced this outpouring of collective grief… and sympathy and compassion for those who suffered a loss.

    ·         It happened to me, too. Although I didn’t lose a family member, it felt like I did.

    ·         It created a gaping wound in the community that still exists today.  Think about it.  Many of us thought we had gotten on with our lives and then the August earthquake hit.  Many in our community thought the earthquake was another terrorist attack and they reacted accordingly.  An amalgam of feelings… the sense of fear, the pain, the anger, disgust, and grief… came flowing back.

    ·         It made us realize how close to the surface those feelings exist… 10 years later.

    ·         Even today, many Northern Virginians are still trying to make sense of it all.  But how does one find meaning in this terrible, tragic, horrible, inhuman act?

    ·         I think that is the biggest struggle people have… whether it’s their personal loss or collective loss.

    ·         Some people fall back on their spiritual or religious experience or beliefs.  Others have lost their faith since 9-11.  Still others find meaning in seeking vengeance for their loss, while there are some who shut it all out because it is the only way they can function and rebuild their lives.

    ·         But I’m not sure that we can ever shake off the feelings that grip us to the core.

    ·         If our community and those who suffered personal losses are to find some semblance of closure… if that is possible… we need to try to understand the significance of this horrible tragedy.

    ·         Are we a better society 10 years later?

    ·         Do we understand ourselves better… or more deeply… or in a more insightful way?

    ·         Have we better engaged our neighbors across the world to try to insure that alienation and hostility aren’t nurtured or harbored?

    ·         I don’t have the answers to these questions, but they are significant ones.

    ·         But, on this day, let’s put those questions aside and dwell on the memories of those innocent men, women, and children who died at the Pentagon on 9-11.

    ·         Let us remember their triumphs… their contributions to their families and our society… and their smiles.

    ·         Remember what they accomplished, instead of what they could have been.  Every one of them has a story to be told.

    ·         Remember all of the good times, rather than their absence.

    ·         But never forget, because none of us will.