These Colors Don't Run - Remember 9.11.2001 Equipped To Survive
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Thoughts on Patriots Day Two Years Later
Commentary by
Doug Ritter

With the focus these days on partisan politics and the media's inevitable concentration on bad and negative news it is easy to forget that so very much has gone right in the past two years since most of America woke up to the painful reality that it was engaged in a war. It is easy to wish things were different, but it is foolish to assume that there must be simple and inexpensive and less painful and bloody solutions, or that this will all somehow just go away.

The reality is that a lot more has gone right than has gone wrong. Not that all involved in responding to this threat haven't made plenty of mistakes, but that's only to be expected. Anyone expecting anything better is living in a fantasy world--or trying to win an election. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do much better, however. It would be nice if we learn from our mistakes.

The reality is that there is no appeasing the terrorists that find freedom and our way of life anathema. The only safety is in strength and the respect, however grudging at times, that brings. The only solution to terror is the death of the terrorists. Negotiation and compromise are not part of their vocabulary except as a delaying tactic in their war.

Look past the headlines and the blood shed by our brave men and women and see what is good and just about our fight. Those who specifically target and kill innocent men, women and children as a means to their ends are the enemy of everything we stand for, no matter what your political stripe.

We must reaffirm our resolve not to let terrorists destroy our civilization, our freedom and the hopes of all the others yearning for a better life. We must reaffirm our resolve to fight them wherever they exist, here or abroad, until they are defeated. We must reaffirm our resolve also not to let our own government steal our freedoms as we fight to preserve them and free others. Easy solutions are rarely the right solutions.

The bloody work we must do is only part of the solution. If we do not also work just as hard to instill a respect for freedom and justice in others and to help others be all they can possibly be, then we will fail, and we will deserve to. The war for the minds and hearts of those oppressed or who have been misled and lied to in order to serve the abominable ends of terrorism and oppression is no less important or critical to our success and ultimate safety.

However imperfect we may be, and there is no denying that we are, this country is still the most envied on earth, despite the naysayers. Not simply because of the material wealth we possess, but because of our freedom and respect for justice and the rule of law that makes that possible. On this day when we honor those whose lives have been lost to our enemies and those who put their lives on the line daily to protect us, please join me in reaffirming your commitment to the ideals that have served to develop the United States into the beacon of freedom and justice for the world.

Terrorism can never be allowed to succeed or all is lost.

Doug Ritter
September 11, 2003

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First Published: September 11, 2003
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