Last week, my wife and participated in a presentation on forgiveness. It was mostly about forgiveness between spouses, being that a group of married couples were participating. But in the sharing, she brought up how I have changed in the last decade, starting, say, with September of 2001. I think she was looking for me to say that my views were changing and that it was time to move on and forgive. Perhaps that holding on to my anger was only hurting me, and so on.
Here’s what I said last week, “I’m not over it. God may forgive them. I cannot. They aren’t asking for forgiveness. They are still killing Americans. They would still kill us all if it was in their power. Until they surrender, until the threat is eliminated, until the war is over, I will not forgive. I will never forget.”
She is right about how I’ve changed, though. I am not the same person that stood and watched the 2nd plane hit the towers on a TV at work. I am the same person that watched the towers fall. I went to war in that hour. I am at war now. I will be at war until victory is declared and we have a parade down Broadway (or until I die of old age, the more likely possibility).
In late September of 2001, there were candlelight vigils and memorial services and all sorts of emails running around suggesting this color ribbon or that as an appropriate response to the Islamic attack on the United States. I remembered my response and I went looking for it and there, still in my sent mail folder, was my reply. I remember sending this out quite a few times. I will post it here unedited in it’s entirety:
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 06:19:12 -0400
Subject: My current reply to most e-mail
I have been getting a lot of e-mails on the theme of healing, closure, etc. One recurring thread is the idea of “lets all light a candle” or lets “all put up purple ribbons”. I got one yesterday, here was my reply.
SORRY, NOT THIS TIME! I’m not interested in mourning, grieving, or moving on. I am not interested in colored ribbons, candle light vigils, or new memorials where tall buildings once stood. I am ready for the United States to lead the world in eliminating evil people and their distorted ideas. When that job is done, then we can rebuild, and put up appropriate memorials to all the dead.
The United Islamic Jihad made a written declaration of war on the U.S. in 1999. We ignored it, to our current chagrin. Starting with the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979, and the taking of the hostages (Remember Jimmy Carter?), I have a list of events I have thought of. The bombing of Pan Am 103, the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut (241 dead), the 1st bombing of the World Trade Towers, the bombing of the Kobar apartments in Saudi Arabia, the bombing of the 2 U.S. Embassies in Africa, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. There may be others, these are some that come to mind.
Ok, we are at war, with a enemy who’s stated purpose is to destroy the United States. What happened 2 weeks ago is not a tragedy, it is an atrocity. Another in a series of acts of aggression that have gone unanswered and unchallenged. I think flying the flag is enough of a symbol. If you want to take action, here are some ideas.
1. Write your Congressmen and senators. Tell them you support the President’s military actions. Demand that we go as far as is necessary to ensure that no one can ever attack us like this again.
2. Send a care package, snacks, homemade cookies, etc. to a serviceman or woman.
3. Befriend the family of a serviceman or woman that has been called up to active duty or sent overseas. They need our help and support.
4. Encourage young men and women of good character to join one of the Armed Services. We need the best of America in this fight.
5. Keep your outrage fresh. Don’t let the media or anyone else dilute the energy. Stay focused, and be prepared for more attacks, deaths both here at home, and in battle overseas.
6. Actively resist and confront “politically correct” people sharing thoughts and ideas that wander toward the old idea of peace at any price. Peace at any price isn’t peace, it’s slavery.
I think it holds up pretty well for the writing of a very outraged American in September of ’01. I still agree with it. There is a time for forgiveness, and a time to withhold forgiving. There is a time for peace, and a time for war.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.