Sept 11 Anniversary

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum are set for a memorial service, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in New York. Thousands of 9/11 victims' relatives, survivors, rescuers and others are expected to gather Monday at the World Trade Center to remember the deadliest terror attack on American soil. Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked planes slammed into the trade center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) ORG XMIT: NYML101

Mark Lennihan

After terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Americans didn’t immediately know who had wounded us, how we would fight back, and how long the struggle would be.

Amid the agony and the doubt, we did what free people usually do, thinking it through as we went along. The results were sometimes muddled and messy, as the work of any representative democracy must inevitably be. But as today’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks arrives, we’re still here, our resilience and resolve a rebuke to enemies of liberty around the globe.

Improvisation, a quality at the core of Louisiana’s food and music, resonates among our fellow Americans because we are, across the land, a people who rely on the resourcefulness of the individual mind to carry the day.

Our foes include fanatics who pervert Islam into an ideological wasteland, as well as totalitarian despots such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Those tyrants offer a different, darker view of humanity, one that values conformity and obedience above all else. Their bankrupt morality is as old as the ages, a dismally durable lineage that traces its line to Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun.

On 9/11, America answered that bleak vision with an abiding assumption that when given to power to choose for themselves, free people will, by and large, rise to the occasion, finding a nobility perhaps surprising even to themselves.

We saw that on 9/11 when a group of American passengers, without direction from their government and answering no higher call than conscience, fought back the hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93, forcing it to crash in a Pennsylvania field before it could harm another target in Washington, D.C. Everyone aboard perished.

The years since that fateful day have brought new evidence of what Americans can do when compelled by compassion and courage to act. We saw it after Hurricane Katrina, the flood of 2016 and Hurricane Harvey.

Today’s solemn anniversary coincides with new challenges to America. Hurricane Irma promises another cycle of misery here at home, while abroad, our enemies continue to plot their own forms of suffering.

Today is a day to remember those who have died in the global war on terror, including the men and women of the armed forces. Today is a day to honor those who continue to serve far away from home in the protection of liberty. Today, we pray for peace, and the wisdom to do what is right when peace is elusive. That will always be the privilege — and the obligation — of free people who stand against terror.