As we come up on 22 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks on our nation, I find myself feeling strangely shocked that the children born after the attacks are almost 22 years old. I know that is just logical, and shouldn’t be shocking at all, but it is. How can so many years have gone by since the 2,977 people from 102 countries, lost their lives in those senseless attacks? Many of those children might even be parents themselves by now. I’m sure the hole left by the dad they lost, feels massive. They have been robbed of their dad and very likely a grandpa for their children, and then of course there are all of the sons, daughters, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and coworkers.

On September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists took it upon themselves, and instructions of their evil leaders, and attacked a nation and a people who had done nothing to them. Hate is like that. There is no reason for it, they just look at different as something to hate. Sadly, that is the way of the world we live in. The attacks of September 11 reminded us so clearly that we must always stay alert. The evil people around us will take any opportunity to act upon their hate if the people around them are not watchful. That is also why it is so important to secure our boarders, and properly vet anyone who is to be given any kind of a visa here. These terrorists came is as “students” to learn to fly, or actually crash planes into the buildings in our nation. They were never interested in learning to land, because they had no intention of landing.

We had long ago stopped our careful watch concerning hijacking planes, because we didn’t believe that hijacking was something that happened anymore…until it happened, and the attackers had our planes with no intention to take them anywhere but into destruction. We can never again afford to let our guard down. As the old saying goes, “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.” That is so very true, and evil did flourish, because we didn’t stop it. It may be 22 years since the last attack on our nation, but we can never stop being on our guard, because the world we live in is looking for a way to take us out, and it is our job to protect those around us. We must “Never Forget” the 9-11 attacks, nor the lives we lost in that horrific attack. Continuing to pray for the families of those we lost.

I love old military sites, like forts, and from one to another, they are so many differences. In Casper, Wyoming, where I live, Fort Caspar is a typical Old West fort as you would expect of the days of wagon trains and Indian rampages, but when you look at a fort back east and especially along coastal waters, where it would be necessary to protect our borders, they are much more military looking. Fort Gaines, located the eastern tip of Dauphin Island, off the Gulf coast of Alabama, is a very different looking fort, as my mind pictures forts anyway. Fort Gaines’ well-preserved ramparts, which have guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay for more than 150 years, look very much like they did when they were first built there. The structure is considered one of the nation’s best-preserved Civil War era masonry forts. However, it is also under threat from erosion, as is common of very old structures. The present Fort Gaines was initially designed in 1818 as the identical twin to Fort Morgan, which stands across Mobile Bay, to defend the new territory of Alabama. It was named for General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, a hero of the War of 1812. However, when Congress cancelled funding in 1821, work on the fort was suspended. Years later, when more funding became available 1846, the original design was scrapped, and when construction began in 1857 a new pentagonal-shaped design took its place. The objective of the fortress was to guard the seaward approaches to Mobile Bay and the eastern entrance of the Mississippi Sound.

Dauphin Island was used for centuries by the Native Americans, who went there to fish, hunt, and gather oysters and other shellfish that grew in abundance in Mobile Bay. To this day, evidence of their presence can still be seen at Shell Mound Park on the Island’s north shore. The island was also visited by Italian explorer Americus Vespucius, who is said to have visited in 1497. In addition, the Spanish discovered the island, which they named Isle de Labe (Island of the Ridge) from the large sand dunes that extend along its southern shores. The French took possession in 1699 the French and renamed it the Isle de Massacre, because they found so many skeletons scattered on the beach that they thought a massacre had taken place there. The French established a settlement on the island that was raided by pirates in 1711, but survived.

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the French Governor, built a fort there that’s he called Fort Torabigbee and changed the name of the island to Dauphin Island after a member of French royalty, “Dauphine” about 1712. From 1763 to 1783, the English held this Island, and in 1783 it went back to Spain. Finally, after years of dispute as to ownership, in 1812, Dauphin Island was taken by the United States during the War of 1812 because it was said the Spanish sympathized with the English. The earliest American fortification built here was in 1812, and that area has belonged to the United States since that time.

Before the fort was fully completed, the Alabama state militia seized it on January 5, 1861, because they were anticipating the state seceding from the Union. That did occur on January 11, 1861. Following the secession, Confederate engineers completed the fort over the next several years. During the Civil War, the fort played an vital role in the Battle of Mobile Bay, and it was within sight of its walls that Union Admiral David G Farragut issued his immortal command, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” After Farragut and his ships forced their way into the bay, Union soldiers laid siege to Fort Gaines, which surrendered on August 8, 1864. After the Union forces took possession of the fort, it was used to plan and stage the final attack on Mobile, Alabama.

Following the Civil War, the fort was repaired by engineers, but the post stood empty for years. Between 1901 and 1904, two modern gun batteries were built. These housed six guns that complemented the modernizations at nearby Fort Morgan. Other than the basic preservation repairs, Fort Gaines was not further improvements. Fort Gaines, like its sister complex, Fort Morgan and other forts, was no longer needed for harbor defense, as its guns were outmatched by those on foreign battleships. When World War I ended the War Department sold Fort Gaines to the state of Alabama, however it was reactivated briefly during World War II and then returned to the state once again. The state opened Fort Gaines as a state park in 1955. Fort Gaines is currently under the management of the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board.

Looking back to September 10, 2001, it seemed that all was right with the world, but in fact, it was not, as we would all find out the very next morning. There were warning signs that terrorists were plotting something, but then weren’t they always. That’s what terrorists do…plot evil, plan to kill as many people as possible, and plan to bring a greater measure of fear into the world. September 11, 2001 would be no different. When 19 al Qaeda militants, hijacked 4 US airliners that morning, the terror had begun. In years past, a hijacked plane was used to take the hijackers to some other country, preferably one without extradition. The passengers were told that this was going to be a hijacking like that, but when the terrorists began slashing people with box cutters, and took over the cockpit, the people knew that this was not a normal hijacking. We all know far too well what the end result of this horrific act of brutal terrorism was.

In all, 2996 people, including the 19 terrorists, lost their lives at four locations that day. Of those 2996 people, only 291 bodies were found intact. A total of 21,906 body parts were found, and 1717 families got no remains at all. In addition, 25,000 more people were injured, and a large number of them have died of 9-11 related illnesses since then. The smoke and debris that came out of the burning jet fuel and buildings was so toxic, and those who helped with the searches and cleanup were exposed. It was a deadly combination. No one knew, or if they did, they disregarded the danger, in an effort to save lives. A few lives were saved. A few people were pulled out of the buildings alive. Theirs was a miracle, and they knew that for the rest of their lives, they would be a walking miracle. Of course, they would also most likely feel some degree of survivor’s guilt, although they shouldn’t. Nevertheless, it is a natural phenomenon, that people tend to struggle with for years, if not the rest of their lives. It never leaves.

For those who lost loved ones on that horrible day, it goes without saying that they will never forget, but the reality is that no one should ever forget. How could we forget, when we see that pictures of the planes going into the towers, or the walls of the Pentagon destroyed, or the massive hole in the Pennsylvania earth. Those aren’t just pictures…they are lives. They are lives lost, and families forever changed. They are children who will grow up without parents, people who with grow old without the spouse they had planned to have with them. They are sons and daughters, whose lives were stolen from them…whose promise was snuffed out before it could be fulfilled. For all of those people…it is our duty to “never forget!!” Our nation lost the feeling of safety that we had before. We don’t trust those we don’t know as much as we used to. We will always be forever changed. Never forget that!! Ever!!

Why would the United States secretly bomb a neutral nation in the middle of a war with an enemy nation? That is the question I have been asking myself concerning the Menu Bombings…the bombing of neutral Cambodia during the Vietnam war. It was thought that bombing supply routes in Cambodia would weaken the enemies of the United States. I’m not sure that worked exactly. It did cut off the supply line, but innocent people were caught in the crossfire. Nevertheless, the decision was made to bomb Cambodia, and also to keep it a secret from the American public, who would most likely feel about it the same way, I do. Intentionally bombing innocent people just rubs most of us the wrong way.

On March 15, 1969, President Richard Nixon approved the plan to bomb Cambodia. The actual missions began on March 18, 1969, when US B-52 bombers are diverted from their targets in South Vietnam to attack suspected communist base camps and supply areas in Cambodia for the first time in the war. This mission, originally intended to be called Operation Breakfast, and subsequent B-52 strikes inside Cambodia became known as the “Menu” bombings. The strikes included a total of 3,630 flights over Cambodia dropping 110,000 tons of bombs during a 14-month period through April 1970. This bombing of Cambodia and all follow up “Menu” operations were kept secret from the American public and the US Congress because Cambodia was considered a neutral nation. The missions had to be kept secret to avoid a public outcry…so, an intricate reporting system was established at the Pentagon to prevent disclosure of the bombing.

Somehow, the story was leaked by the New York Times in May of 1969, but there was little adverse public reaction. Now I find that incredible. The people were so “asleep” that they hardly noticed the bombing of a neutral country. It makes me wonder just how long the people have been asleep. How could people simply take no notice of such a huge violation of the rules of war. I’m sure there are things I don’t know about this war…lots of things, in fact, but I don’t think it is proper for our government to hide things for the people…especially such a big set of bombing missions on a neutral country. The people of this nation need to open our eyes and watch what our government is doing…before it’s too late.

Everyone who is old enough to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, remembers where they were when they heard about the attacks, and when we think about the attacks, we are still saddened for the 2977 people who lost their lives, and their families, who have had to go on without them. Every time a patriot thinks about 9/11, our hearts ache for those who were lost…whose lives were cut short, and their potential left unfulfilled. What I have also seen is that those who hate this nation, have said that we need to move on and get over it, but that is not possible for those of us who love this nation, those who have lost loved ones, and those who pray for those who have lost loved ones.

When the attacks of 9/11 took place, the American people promised that were would never forget, and many people have not forgotten, but there are those who didn’t keep that promise. They began talking about how we should all just “get along” and “coexist.” I know that there are those who will say I am being hateful, but they are wrong. It is not for me to judge those who did these terrible acts. God will be their judge. Nevertheless, it is my job to remember and be watchful. If we are not watchful, we open the doors to another attack in our nation. If we think it could never happen again, we open the doors for it to absolutely happen again. We cannot stick our heads in the sand in such a reckless fashion. Evil exists out there, and if we are not watchful, evil gets a foothold. It is up to us to stop evil from getting that foothold.

When we were complacent in 2001, evil was able to get a foothold. While the airline industry had not had a hijacking in a long time, we were all told always to cooperate with the hijackers. On 9/11 that advise would prove disastrous in three of the four hijacked airplanes. Because everyone cooperated, we watched three planes hit their intended targets. In the fourth hijacked plane, because people called their families, they knew that the hijackers were not going to take them to some foreign country, but rather that they had become a flying bomb. In a selfless act of heroism, they passengers decided to put a stop to the attack their plane was intended to inflict. They didn’t know what building their plane was headed for, but they suspected it was…the US Capitol. And they knew that they had to stop it, because no one else would. Shooting down a hijacked plane was unheard of, and so no order to shoot it down ever came. So in a selfless, heroic act, the passengers of Flight 93 attempted to take over the cockpit, knowing that it was very likely that they would have to crash the plane…which they did.

Unfortunately, we have once again forgotten. We have once again become complacent. We have once again begun to blindly take orders from those who do not have our best interests at heart. And…we have put our nation in a very precarious position…again!!! How could we have forgotten? Yes, we hold memorial ceremonies every year, but when things in our nation don’t seem right, we sit back and say that the government knows best…but do they? Really…do they?

When we think about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, most people are first saddened and appalled, and then we wonder…why?? We should also wonder…why September 11th. I’m sure that the terrorists pick a day, without really knowing why that was the day they picked, but I find the parallels concerning September 11, to be beyond coincidental. I can’t really take credit for pointing out the parallels either, that honor goes to Jonathan Cahn, who is the author of “The Harbinger II,” among other books on the same subject. When you hear about the parallels…well, it’s almost eerie. Cahn pointed out some things that I had no idea about, and it is my guess that I am not alone in not knowing about these parallels, and the good news is that you can research them for yourself to see if what I am telling you is correct or not.

New York City was founded in 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed into what is now the Upper Bay of New York Harbor in the Dutch East India Company ship, Halve Maen (Half Moon in English). Hudson was looking for a Northwest Passage to Asia. He landed on what is now Manhattan, just a short distance from where the World Trade Center had stood in modern times…on September 11, 1609. When I heard that, I had to check it out for myself, and sure enough, on September 11, 1609, Henry Hudson sailed to the southern point of modern day Manhattan. September 11th…seriously!!

So the terrorists flew into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 just a short distance from Henry Hudson’s famous landing, but what of the Pentagon. Well, during World War II, when it was decided that the military needed a single headquarters, the plan began to take shape. The location was chosen, and then came the groundbreaking ceremony on…you guessed it, September 11, 1941. I found it not only shocking that the attacks came on the days of the founding of Manhattan and the Pentagon, but that those two separate places could have that date in common. Could the terrorists have known about these two obscure events in the passage of time. I don’t think so, because I don’t think they were that smart. They simply did what they were told. Could Osama Bin Laden or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have known. I suppose so, but what would they have done if the dates hadn’t matched. None of that made any sense. From their prospective, they simply wanted to attack America. To me, the date is beyond coincidence. It is prophetic and it is spiritual. You can check out the research and draw your own conclusion, or better yet, read the book. There is much more there…in the book…far too much to say here, but it got my attention.

One of the most unique buildings in the United States is the Pentagon. I’m sure that most people think that it was built the way it was to provide a better level of security for the people working within its walls, but that was not the case at all.

The Pentagon was originally planned for a different location, but for reasons unknow, the structure could not be built on that location. The original location was a rather tight space, so in an effort to fit the building in the field that was located between five major roads, the design of an irregular pentagon was chosen. The building couldn’t be very tall due to regulations in the area, and so the design was an almost-level irregular pentagon. Still, the building needed to house 40,000 people and have parking for 10,000 vehicles. That is a very tall order, for a short building. In the end, the planned location, was not allowed, and the Pentagon had to be moved.

Of course, with the location change, it was thought, at first, that the design to be changed too, but everyone involved in the design immediately got mad about the change. The designer had already been paid for his work, and it wasn’t really fair to take the payment back, nor did they want to pay for something they did not use. Finally it was decided to go ahead with the original design, and the result is the well-known, irregular pentagon shape that we are all very familiar with. While the Pentagon is synonymous world-wide with defense, he design had nothing to do with defense at all, but rather it was in an effort to put the building in the space allowed…much like a child putting a square peg in a square hole so that it fits.

Known as Site R, Raven Rock Mountain Complex is a deep underground facility approved for construction by President Harry S Truman in 1950. The plan was for it to be a relocation site for the Pentagon in times of national emergency. To build the site, they workers had to blast out one half a million cubic yards of greenstone granite rock. The super-hard granite was secretly blasted out and hauled away over a period of ten months, to build five separate three-story buildings deep inside the mountain located along the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, in Adams County, Pennsylvania. It operates under a number of…almost code names, Site R, AJCC: Alternate Joint Communications Center, ANMCC: Alternate National Military Command Center, NMCC-R: National Military Command Center – Raven Rock, USAG-RR: U.S. Army Garrison – Raven Rock, the Underground Pentagon, the Little Pentagon, the Backup Pentagon, the Rock, and for the old-timers: Harry’s Hole. All are interesting nicknames, for sure.

Once you are inside, you would not really know that you are underground, because, other than no outside windows, the buildings look like any other office building. The underground complex has roads and perking areas that are big enough to accommodate trucks and buses. The facility is completely self-sufficient, boasting two power plants for electricity, multiple underground water reservoirs and a highly sophisticated ventilation system. It also has a medical and dental clinic, fire department, post office, dining facility, snack bar, dormitories, chapel, barbershop, fitness center, bowling alley, and even a Starbucks. It can accommodate 3,000 people in the event of an emergency, and can operate for at least 30 days in a “buttoned-up” position. Basically the facility is a small city.

In the event of a war situation, the United States must be able to have a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff…basically a blueprint for how the government would re-position itself, if a major catastrophe strikes. Should the country find itself in such peril Senior leaders would be flown in by helicopter from the Pentagon and DOD emergency relocation teams all participate in real-life scenarios which test the alert and notification procedures along with the reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSOI) procedures. These include the COOP transportation plans, Site R hasty access procedures, and the integration of mission essential functions within the operating routine of the alternate site, the backup Pentagon. Defense communications and planning would allegedly be handled at the Raven Rock Mountain Complex, but the structure of such a strategy has been hotly debated. Some sites on the internet had posted a “virtual tour” of Site R, but it is not the real site, other than possibly the pictures of the original work being done. Sites like this, that have national security as their top priority, are not something that is usually open to the public for viewing.

I saw picture of the New York skyline that was taken on September 10, 2001, about 24 hours before the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It was profound. The picture, taken so innocently, probably by a tourist, foretold nothing of the horror that was eminent. No one knew. No one suspected. No one thought such an attack could ever happen on American soil again, but it did, and just 24 hours after this picture was taken, we would all know that it definitely could, and did happen here again.

Just 24 hours after this picture was taken, the lives of 2,996 people would be over (including the 19 hijackers). In addition, more than 6,000 people would be injured. These immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. The September 11th attacks were the deadliest terrorist attack in world history, and the most devastating foreign attack on United States soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941…the last time we had thought it could never happen here.

We could go over the deaths of the people here, but we all know the horror that took place. We wanted to close our eyes to the terrible images, and yet, in utter disbelief, we could not look away. We hoped against hope, and prayed without ceasing, that by some miracle, more people would be found alive. Still, as time went on, we knew there would be no more survivors. Nevertheless, we waited and we watched. We watched with hope, but we also watched with anger. There was no reason for such a horrible attack on our nation. We weren’t at war, and we had done nothing to hurt these attackers. Yet, somehow, in their twisted, evil minds, we had. And they reveled in the way that they had managed to secretly pull this attack off.

Now, 17 years later, with so many of our young adults almost unaware of the attacks of September 11, 2001, we find ourselves in a place where many people think it could never happen here again, and yet, our world is actually more dangerous now than it was then. We must always be alert. We must never forget those attacks. Never assume that evil will leave our nation alone, if we try to be nice to it. Appeasement only makes us look vulnerable, and that opens the door to attack. It has been proven time and time again. Just like the picture of the New York skyline on September 10, 2001 seemed so serene, it held a dark secret that would only be revealed in the stark daylight of September 11.

Sixteen years…that is the amount of time that has passed since the horrific 9-11 attacks on America. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed. When I think about the victims of those attacks, I am saddened to think that the beautiful potential their lives had was stripped away from them in an instant. I think about the families they left behind to mourn their loss. And I think about the babies that arrived after the attacks, who would never know their dads. This year marks another milestone those babies will have without their dads…getting their driver’s license….as well as possibly dating. Their dads have missed so many milestones already, and it was just so unfair. Those men went to work that day, fully expecting to come home, but evil doesn’t care.

I think about the children who were lost in the attacks. Their lives were cut short before they even had a chance to grow up, and fulfill their life’s full potential. Some of them hadn’t even started school yet. They didn’t get the chance to graduate from high school, which many of them would now have done by now. Their potential to be a productive member of society was squashed in a matter of a few hours on that September day, sixteen years ago, because evil doesn’t care.

I am sad for the men and women, who worked in the offices of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, who simply went about their day, doing the things they had planned, only to have everything ripped out from under them in a moment. Their futures were so bright. They were going places. They had studied and learned their trade, and now they were the people who were ready to go out and change the world. Their dreams were so quickly over. They would do no more. Their chance was gone. And the people on the planes, innocently traveling to their destination…forced to become a bomb in the plot to kill so many. Life for all of them ended that awful day, because evil doesn’t care.

I think of the emergency workers who ran into the buildings…the same way they always do in an emergency, fully expecting to bring the people out and save their lives. They ran in, but most of those who went in, did not come back out that day. So many of the higher ranked firefighters had to be quickly replaced with firefighters who were less experienced in leadership, because the leaders were gone. So many people in so many areas of the United States and the world had to try to go on with the emptiness that was left by the loss of so many, in all walks of life. The nation had to rebuild…move forward…and deal with the feelings of grief, anger, and loss that the attacks left behind…that hate left behind, because evil doesn’t care about the life it destroyed. Evil just doesn’t care.

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