7th Annual Veterans Day “HELP” Appreciation Event 11 NOV 2015
…”You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”….MATTHEW 5: 38, 39…
There are many reasons to honor the memory of 9-11, public and private. No doubt 9-11 stirs very personal thoughts within the hearts of many. This morning I have been asked to reprise this speech reflecting upon 9-11 as we honor America’s veterans and their families. America’s veterans are the keepers of freedom. Veterans know their commitment to defend liberty never ends; they and their families have borne the high price to keep America the land of the Free and home of the brave. As a nation we humbly thank and recognize our country’s first responders, men and women that have gone into harm’s way no matter the threat to include but not limited to: members of our military, police, fire and rescue and local EMS — and we celebrate our enduring freedoms as citizens of these United States of America, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Distinguished guests, civic leaders, elected officials, friends of America, fellow citizens and most especially veterans and your families, it is my distinct honor to share some personal thoughts regarding this esteemed occasion: “Remembering 9-11 & our Nation’s Heroes”. Regarding the Bible verse I read just a few minutes ago, we shall return to that later as you will see there is a connection to our ceremony.
Certainly this moment in our nation’s history drives complex and emotional memories for all of us- feelings including- anger, sorrow, depression, fear, anxiety, insecurity, revenge and even forgiveness. Sometimes it is not easy being an American. The dark forces of evil in the world serve only one purpose: to destroy. While “Radical Islam” is not the sole sponsor of terrorism, that movement or culture is squarely responsible for the attacks against our countrymen on 9-11.
The culture of “Radical Islam” is not accepting of western ideas nor is it compatible with American values promoting self-determination, freedom of expression/religion and representative government to name just a few. These principles by definition threaten the religious authority and cultural governance of Islamic societies; hence America is- more often than not- by definition viewed as a direct adversary to the world of Islam. Having served in the Global War on Terror and having walked in these places I can tell you that this is often a struggle between good and evil ….it is spiritual, physical and on-going. Now before I continue I want to state that as a warrior I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic- and that oath means, among other things, that if necessary I would lay my life down in order to preserve the rights of our citizens to practice the religion of their choice including Islam without fear of persecution. As an American that is who I am.
Today I want you to consider, for a moment, these 3 topics:
–911 The Threat
–911 The Memory
–911 The Lesson
9-11 THE THREAT: looking back at the events of 9-11 we are a nation more familiar with what is called “Global Terrorism” and it is also fair to assume we are collectively better prepared to recognize and defend ourselves against it. Threats evolve and over time the actors change and so do technologies. The origins of these threats, however, rarely change and to understand that reality is key. In direct contrast to our country the world of Islam makes no separation between culture, religion and government. Western democratic ideals are incompatible with this culture often leading to continuous tension between the two cultures. It is important to understand this tension between cultures will not subside and to reason it away intellectually is a grave mistake in national policy.
So what do we do? Our nation must remain strong and vigilant; prepared economically, socially, spiritually and militarily for an ever-evolving threat of terrorism both here on our own soil and abroad. Not all future terrorist threats will flow from outside our borders nor will every terrorist originate from within the culture of “Radical Islam”. However, as long as “Radical Islam” or any other culture chooses to control their respective populations with a tyrannical grip of fear and in-humane treatment–those regions of the world will– by definition likely continue to export terrorism as their weapon of choice in order to keep and expand regional control wherever and whenever possible. These groups will attract society’s disenfranchised by offering violence as the solution to their problems. The United States by definition shall always be a leading target. My friends, the threat is here to stay.
911 The Memory:
—WTC NYC FACTS:
-The year the World Trade Centre was built: 1970
-Number of companies housed in the WTC: 430
-Number working in World Trade Centre on average working day prior to 11 September: 50,000
-Average number of daily visitors: 140,000
-Total number killed in attacks in New York: 2,753
-Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
-Number of NYPD officers: 23
-Number of Port Authority police officers: 37
-Number of WTC companies in the towers that lost people: 128
-Number of employees who died in Tower One: 1,402
-Number of employees who died in Tower Two: 614
-Number of employees lost at Cantor Fitzgerald Investment firm: 658
-Number of orphans created by the 9/11 attacks: 1,300
-Number of British victims: 67
-Number of nations whose citizens were killed in attacks: 115
-Number of U.S. troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,343
-Maximum heat of fires, in degrees Fahrenheit, at World Trade Center site: 2,300
-Number of day’s underground fires at World Trade Centre continued to burn: 69
-Number of days that workers dug up debris at Ground Zero, searching for body parts: 230
-Number of body parts collected: 19,500
-Number of bodies discovered intact: 291
-Cleanup at Ground Zero: Cleanup at Ground Zero officially ends on May 30, 2002.
-It took 3.1 million hours of labor to clean up 1.8 million tons of debris.
-The total cost of cleanup is $750 million.
-May 10, 2014 – According to the medical examiner’s office, of the 2,753 people reported missing at the World Trade Center, 1,115 victims, or 41 percent of the total, have not been identified.
-Number of children born to Yemen-born construction magnate Muhammad Awad Bin Laden: 52
-Number child Osama was: 17
-Estimated fortune of Osama Bin Laden, inherited from father: $300m
-Number of Al-Qaeda members thought to have hijacked the four planes: 19
-Number of the 19 who were Saudi: 15
-At the Pentagon in Washington, 184 people are killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the building.
-Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93 die when the plane crashes into a field.
911 The Memory CONT:
We remember where we were on that day as individuals and we all remember the emotions that filled our national conscience. Moments of national crisis like 9-11 or natural disasters often bring out the best of America. We unify under stress as our great “melting-pot” of peoples put aside their differences. Through this national unity comes great strength and resolve. Recent racial tensions have grabbed headlines across our country and these issues challenge the very fabric of our nation and who we are as a people. America is a complicated place where unlike any other nation so many different cultures co-exist under the rule of law. In an ironic way, we actually could say that just having racial and cultural problems as we do is a blessing because it forces greater national maturity and citizenship…it is what makes us ultimately the greatest nation on earth- the fact that we are a diverse population where everyone and every culture contributes. Dis-similar people don’t just decide to get along without laws, education, tolerance and respect– and as Americans we lead in spite of our faults and failings the world in this grand experiment we call the “melting-pot”. This is the face of America and 9-11 reminds us that we have a great calling to not only preserve our individual rights to free speech and religion among others but also to disagree civilly under the rule of law all the while knowing our greater calling in this land is to never forget we are Americans first–regardless of heritage, creed, religion or color. The opposite is the face of violence. 9-11 reminds us of what it means to be an American, that our nation remains the world’s best hope for mankind to seek and achieve individual dreams and that all Americans must guard and defend the freedoms our Creator has bestowed upon us and this land. “9-11 The Memory” should be a source of national unity and patriotism for all Americans everywhere. To whom much has been given much shall be required. We will overcome our own cultural problems; we will not shy away from the difficult- we will lead and inspire. We are Americans.
911 THE LESSON: Well folks, here we are 14 years removed from one of the most prolific and deadly attacks our nation has ever suffered; so what lessons can we learn? I have told you the threat is here to stay and you know it will continue to challenge our national resources to stay in front of those threats. I have told you that America is a complicated place where cultures sometimes clash but– with our citizens’ collective efforts under the rule of law our diversity eventually drives resolve and national unity as we are all the face of America. We know peace comes through strength. We know America is truly the world’s only superpower for now and by default history reinforces America must lead. The world expects us to and when we do we help ensure order and guard against disorder; we see other nations more willing to risk their own resources to solve regional problems. We know there will be mistakes and as in any leadership position we fully expect criticism from many and praise from few. At the end of the day– just as in the immediate moments following the attacks of 9-11 Americans understand that often times we are alone and unpopular with many forces in the world. The price of freedom is high but we have stated it is a price we are willing to pay. The world must know our strength comes not from only military might but from our national treasure of diverse people- that all lives matter- that Americans will lead and not faint and that we, for all our faults, will continue to move the bar forward for all people that seek and love freedom.
Today, we have remembered “9-11 The Threat, 9-11 The Memory & 9-11 The Lesson”; we honor the sacrifice of those who have gone before us and because of their sacrifice we can look forward to a new day of hope for freedom-loving people the world over. Thanks to America’s Veterans, Freedom’s torch has been passed; our responsibility is great- the world is watching. In closing, I return to the scripture I read at the beginning: ”You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”. You may or may not know that– this passage can now be found inside the 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero, NYC. On 30 March 2012 a fire fighter found this Bible verse emulsified into some concrete rubble while cleaning up the site. He gave it to a photographer for preservation. It is now known as “The Ground Zero Bible”. Perhaps the “Sovereign-Almighty” in one small passage preserved by His hand- tells us what our final answer to wanton violence like 9-11 should strive to be…
May God Bless each and every one of you; remember to thank a veteran for his or her service- thank you for listening and may God Bless the United States of America.
Kevin F. White, Lt. Col. USAF Ret. Candidate U.S. Congress OH District 8 11 NOV 2015
People for Kevin F. White
1833 N. Dayton-Lakeview Rd.
New Carlisle, OH 45344
“Of the People, By the People & For the People”
*facts referenced in this speech obtained from various on-line “open-source” resources from: CNN, NYMAG, US NEWS & The Guardian*