On the anniversary of September 11, America needs a reset button

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I watched the unimaginable unfold from the “GOC”, the global operations center, an underground comm...

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I watched the unimaginable unfold from the “GOC”, the global operations center, an underground command post for all US nuclear forces in Building 500 at Offutt Air Base. , in Nebraska.

I was in “the bunker” after a night’s wake as a participant in a global exercise when the footage came to CNN. That afternoon, Air Force One with President George Bush on board would land at our base. I was in charge, if only for a moment, of organizing an area for the White House press corps.

After Bush received the horrific details of the 9/11 attacks, he left to return to Washington. Less than a month later, the first American forces entered Afghanistan. My life and the lives of millions of other men and women in uniform and our families would be changed forever.

To better explain how, I have to move the clock and describe another birthday.

Fifteen years ago this week, I was deployed to Afghanistan and headed to the United States Embassy in downtown Kabul for a meeting to discuss plans to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks with international media coverage. In a few days, I would be escorting CNN’s Anderson Cooper to various locations in Afghanistan.

Then I felt an ear-splitting explosion. Then a gust of wind. I fell to the ground. When I got up there was a huge cloud of smoke and dirt with fire and flames a few feet away from me. A suicide bomber detonated his bomb-filled Toyota Corolla alongside a Humvee, an American armored military vehicle.

At the time, it was the deadliest explosion in Kabul since US forces ousted the Taliban. There would be more attacks, until the end. Sixteen people died that morning, September 8, 2006, including two American soldiers.

One of them was the sergeant. 1st Class Merideth Howard, a 52-year-old firefighter and Army Reservist from Alameda, Calif., Who was behind the mounted gun of the Humvee. She is the oldest known American woman to die in combat. Another army reservist in his unit, Master Sgt. Robert Paul, was also killed.

The two soldiers were assigned to a Civil Affairs Brigade in eastern Afghanistan, acting as liaison officers with the Afghan people to help rebuild roads, schools and infrastructure.

They were in Kabul for a supply run and to take a break in their outpost. On trips to the capital, Howard met other Reservists she knew from home who were assigned to my unit. I remember his smile and his laughter. During one visit, she enjoyed a fun evening that included stories and board games – a chance to relax and unwind.

I have a photo of Howard saved on my laptop. I watch it often. This is the one you see with this column. A moment of hope, at the time, of our American experience in Afghanistan. A female soldier with a rifle slung hands a school bag to an Afghan girl.

In a documentary that highlighted the civil affairs mission in Afghanistan, Howard is highlighted – a gray-haired American woman charting the future of the Afghan woman.

“Most of the kids are in school, even if it’s just a few hours a day,” she said in the film. “And that’s what we’re trying to do, is just help them as much as we can.”

In 20 years, American troops have built schools, built roads, and brought electricity and running water to villages. They have created a better life for many Afghans.

The problem, of course, is that we have fought two simultaneous wars – Iraq and Afghanistan – with an army made up entirely of volunteers. Quite simply, with pride and a superficial understanding of history, we bit more than we could chew.

In a report I tabled when I returned home, I had this to say: “Anything that is positive for the Afghan people will be targeted by Taliban militants. The Taliban are still in hiding and have deep roots. The transformation of Afghanistan is, in my view, far beyond our reach and our capabilities. And, today, I will certainly add far beyond America’s attention span and interest in waging long and drawn-out wars in far off places.

In his address to the nation shortly after September 11, Bush called on all Americans to unite. “We have found our mission and our moment,” he said. “We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire of it; we will not falter and we will not fail.

Who was “us?”

The crux of my long examination of America’s legacy since September 11 is the lack of shared sacrifice and the huge profits reaped by military contractors. One percent of the population was sent into battle while another 1% earned a ton of money. If someone else’s child is struggling and we pass the bill on to future generations, why not?

“While we are at war America is at the center of the trade,” was the common refrain among the nation’s fully volunteer troops.

Think about it. During 20 years of war, a passive and selfless American public asked few questions, avoided unpopular truths about our progress, and funneled more money to the Pentagon. And suddenly, when the last Air Force jets left Kabul last month, people asked, “Was it worth it?”

I relived every attack and every image of suffering children, heartache and waste of my time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. I still lose sleep and still have flashbacks. September 11 was supposed to unite us. Twenty years later, with a nation so bitterly divided, it is no wonder that so many of us are disillusioned.

America needs a reset button. We need to reset the way we send our sons and daughters to war. And before we do, we must all share and take responsibility for the sacrifice. Anything less is shameful and contemptible.

John Paradis, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel, lives in Florence and writes a monthly column for the Gazette. He can be reached at columnists@gazettenet.com.

Source link



Africa,875,Americas,4235,Art & Culture,15459,Arts,6654,Arts & Design,1788,Asia,3451,Automobile,494,Baseball,716,Basketball,574,Books,4063,Business,5528,Celebrity,2633,Cricket,648,Crime,158,Cryptocurrency,1822,Dance,614,Defense,836,Diplomatic Relations,2496,Economy,1250,Editorial,260,Education,1368,Elections,308,Energy & Environment,3105,Entertainment,23173,Environment,3781,Europe,4388,Faith & Religion,235,Family & Life,817,Fashion & Style,3459,Finance,20790,Food & Drink,3934,Football,1153,Games,97,Gossip,10289,Health & Fitness,4283,Health Care,948,Hockey,237,Home & Garden,920,Humour,994,Latin America,49,Lifestyle,17788,Media,527,Middle East,1622,Movies,1883,Music,2810,Opinion,3520,Other,12504,Other Sports,5251,Political News,11324,Political Protests,2324,Politics,18211,Real Estate,2061,Relationship,106,Retail,3116,Science,2797,Science & Tech,10569,Soccer,300,Space & Cosmos,379,Sports,12773,Technology,3612,Tennis,649,Theater,1810,Transportation,313,Travel,2698,TV,3839,US,1013,US Sports,1481,Video News,3531,War & Conflict,1069,Weird News,998,World,17296,
Newsrust - US Top News: On the anniversary of September 11, America needs a reset button
On the anniversary of September 11, America needs a reset button
Newsrust - US Top News
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy Table of Content