Flights of Angels
Nearly 3,000 people died five years ago today. On an historical scale, that is not a huge number. Many more Americans died on the first day of the Normandy invasion--some 6600, and it does not even approach the 23,000 dead soliders at Antietam. The 9/11 death toll does surpass Pearl Harbor (2400). But the difference is clear; all of those were primarily military deaths. The closest civilian event in the US would be the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Exact figures were never established, but it is believed to have been around 3000 dead.
But in terms of its impact on our society, 9/11 stands as a defining moment. The diverging world views that drive some men to crash planes into innocent civilians lead others to rush toward the flames, trying to save all that they could. It is terribly impolite to say so, but we are indeed fighting a war against a group of religious fanatics who wish to drag us back to the Dark Ages to live under their religious law. And though some describe this as a clash of civilizations, that is really a misnomer--because the other side isn't civilized at all.
On this day of remembrance, friends and family members of those lost five years ago will deal with a pain most of us thankfully can only imagine. Each of the dead shares this in common--whether they died without even knowing what happened or intentionally put their lives at risk to save others, they are heroes and casualties of war. And as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, it falls to us as the living to ensure that they have not died in vain. I will spend this day remembering those who died and praying for those they left behind...and hoping for victory in this war we did not choose, but must win.
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2