In Part 3 of my annual three-part 9/11 trilogy, I remember Rick Rescorla, a warrior to the bone, who saved thousands of lives but lost his own.
Every year on 9/11, I remember three people who died that day: Brian Ahearn, a firefighter who gave his life to save others; Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, who calmly faced death on United Flight 93; and Rick Rescorla, whose preparedness and bravery saved thousands of lives. I’ve published these three posts annually for eleven years, with slight adjustments every year as necessary to update them.
One of the main updates is to delete broken links, as many of the sites that used to exist to honor 9/11’s victims and heroes have long-since vanished. These posts are therefore my contribution to immortality to three people who should never be forgotten.
The murderous frenzy unleashed on 9/11 is an awkward size. As the Left at home and abroad demonstrates relentlessly, it if had been a smaller attack — along the lines of Fort Hood or San Bernardino, we would have been told that it was simply the act of a crazy person whose psychosis led him to misunderstand the “Religion of Peace.” Had it been monumentally bigger — say, the size of Hitler’s Poland invasion — we all would have easily recognized it as “a war,” and would have treated it accordingly, both strategically and emotionally.
Since 9/11, however, Americans have grappled with the best way in which to handle things when nineteen Muslim men, powered by money from Saudis, Iranians, and Iraqis, hijack four planes and kill 2,996 people. Actual events have proved that, in the post-modern world, our nation had no template to define our emotional response following 9/11. We had a vacuum.
The one thing you can say with certainty about America today is that, when there is a vacuum, politics will fill it. Following a short frenzy of national mourning, the nation divided itself into two oppositional viewpoints with regard to what 9/11 means. The Left (of course) took refuge in a Walt Kelly worldview: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
During his presidency, Obama made sure we understand that Western values are uniquely undeserving. One year, he told us that 9/11 wasn’t just our tragedy, which means that our efforts to mourn prove that we’re not only bullies we’re also self-centered bullies. The message from the Left is always clear: We Americans don’t deserve to mourn. Not only was it not about us, it was our fault!
This analysis sees just two narrow categories of victims on that fateful day: those who died and those who killed. The rest of us were guilty, and we have to work hard to expiate that stain from our collective conscience.
For 16 years now, the schism that set in soon after 9/11 has dominated American political discourse. The details may vary, but from the Left, especially on America’s college campuses, the tone is unchanging. Americans are bullies. We’ve bullied the Muslims so much over the past few decades, it was inevitable that they, prodded beyond bearing, turned on us. And while it’s sad that 2,996 non-combatants (mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters) had to die, that’s what happens when you give your allegiance to — and, worse, make your money from — a system that is inherently parasitical.
That’s the Leftist view. There are, thankfully, other voices in America. Those of us who reject the Leftist paradigm see ourselves neither as evil-doers nor as victims (although we were victimized by evil). We are warriors. George Bush understood that when he addressed the Emergency Rescue Workers the site of the World Trade Center:
That’s also what George Bush understood when he took America to war. When we are attacked, we fight back. And when we are attacked by a shadowy organization that takes succor from various Islamic tyrannies around the world, we challenge those tyrannies. It’s not pretty, it’s not surgically neat, it’s not politically correct, but it is necessary. We mourn our dead and then we hunt down their killers. We have met the warrior and he is us.
All of which brings me to Rick Rescorla, a warrior among warriors, not just on 9/11, but throughout his entire life, a life devoted to racing towards the battlefield to fight against those who would deny people their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Although born and raised in England, Rick was and is the essence of America.