It was a typical day in Washington, meeting with asparagus growers, until our meeting was interrupted. Immediately we all realized America would be different. You could see the smoke rising from the Pentagon out of my office window. Everyone had the same question: What would this all mean? Most staff went home, but I remained in the office, staying connected with reporters and constituents who wanted to know what was happening, to feel reassured that our government hadn’t been decapitated and weakened. As we gathered on the steps of the Capitol that evening, I was confident that America was stronger and more united than ever.
As our nation gathered itself, I had the opportunity to work with Jane Harman, Susan Collins, and Joe Lieberman to guide our nation through major intelligence reform. We restored the intelligence capabilities that are essential to keeping America safe. The intelligence successes of today — the ability of the CIA and the military to work jointly to take out Osama bin Laden and target terrorists around the world — were the result of the bipartisan intelligence reforms that came out of 9/11: Republicans and Democrats working together for America.
The lessons of 9/11 are instructive for today, when the spirit of oneness has disappeared. America needs strong servant-leaders who have the desire to solve the problems we face. The spirit and unity of purpose that we found as a nation in the wake of 9/11 are what we need to get Washington working again.— Former Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra is running for United States Senate from Michigan.
M. ZUHDI JASSER
As a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and an American Muslim whose family fled the tyranny of Syria for American liberty, the attacks of 9/11 struck at the very core of who I am. The Navy man in me wanted to rush to re-up with the Navy and be the first in line to take the fight back to the monsters that had attacked us. And as a devout Muslim, I felt an even greater call to action and a tug of responsibility to fix the deep underlying problems that have placed a stranglehold on my faith and led some of my co-religionists to such brutality.
The attacks put into hyperdrive a life-long mission to fight the ideology of political Islam, which is what fueled the militant radical Islamists that attacked us on 9/11 and is fueling the ever-increasing threat to our homeland today.
For me, 9/11 created a passion to provide an alternative American Muslim voice to the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups, one that advocates to Muslims and non-Muslims the principles of the U.S. Constitution — liberty, freedom, and the separation of mosque and state. Liberty-minded Muslims whose identity is tied to Americanism and our First Amendment are our only hope for victory in this ideological battle against militant Islamism.— M. Zuhdi Jasser is president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
What I remember most about 9/11 is a collage: first, the beautiful, azure-skied day. I noted it while sitting at my desk in Connecticut scribbling away at an article for The New Criterion
. My first news was from a colleague who lived in Brooklyn. He wanted to stay home that day: a plane had smashed into the World Trade Center and pandemonium was building. I said okay, though I thought he was overreacting. “Probably a Cessna,” I said, plugging in a news search. At first, the result was indeterminate. It wasn’t long, though, before that beautiful day took on a surreal quality. Somehow, the clarity of the day heightened the horror of events. After a sputtering start, the news reports came in confused, repetitive cataracts. There were 10,000 dead; no, 20,000; no, 5,000. Another plane had hit the White House; no, the Capitol; no, the Pentagon. “We have other planes”: did we hear that then? I have a recollection we did but can’t be certain. Uncertainty. Rumors. Fear. “The world has changed today”: I remember thinking that. That afternoon, while watching one of the endless replays of the towers collapsing, the fear gave way to anger.
— Roger Kimball is publisher of Encounter Books, and co-publisher and co-editor of The New Criterion.