Tag Archives: 9/11

Perspective of time and age on history

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Wreckage of the airship Hindenburg continues to burn on the ground at Lakehurst Air Base in New Jersey

 

I was typically scrolling through my Twitter feed this afternoon when a news blurb caught my eye. It was a picture of the Hindenburg with a headline reading that the last survivor of that disaster had passed away.

For those who may be too young to have ever heard of this historic disaster, or simply may have somehow missed or forgotten about it, here is a quick summary.

The Hindenburg was a dirigible, a blimp if you will, and the last airship commissioned by the world’s first-ever passenger airline, the German Airship Transportation Corporation Ltd, which was established in 1909. It was also known as “the pride of the Nazi airship fleet“, the largest ever built.

In the days prior to airplane travel, the Hindenburg provided the fastest method of travel across the Atlantic Ocean. Passengers could travel from Europe to the Americas in half the time of an ocean liner, and did so in luxurious and comfortable settings that would never be matched by commercial airliners in the coming decades.

On its final flight, the Hindenburg took off on May 3, 1937 from Hamburg, Germany with 36 passengers and 61 crew members on the ship’s 63rd flight. The destination was an air field at Lakehurst, New Jersey which is now part of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, about 15 miles inland from the Jersey shore community of Seaside Heights.

On its May 6 arrival, the landing lines were dropped, but flames suddenly became visible. The fire quickly engulfed the tail of the ship, and a massive inferno was set off. Some passengers and crew actually dove out of windows. Those near the front generally survived. At the interior, most were not so lucky.

Broadcasting the arrival over the relatively new technology of national radio, newscaster Herb Morrison shouted out what would become one of the most famous lines in radio history: “This is one of the worst catastrophes in the world!

In the end, of the 97 on board, 36 people died in the Hindenburg disaster: 13 passengers, 22 crew, and one worker on the ground.

I was just a kid, maybe around 10 years old, when I first heard about the incident. That would make it roughly 35 years later. Watching the grainy footage in a television news blurb on the anniversary and hearing the old, scratchy radio broadcast, it seemed like ancient history.

Reading the news today as I rapidly approach age 58, decades after first learning of the disaster, the story stated that the oldest survivor had passed away at age 90.

Werner Gustav Doehner died on November 8 at his home in New Hampshire. He was just eight years of age when the disaster took the life of his father and sister.

We were close to a window, and my mother took my brother and threw him out. She grabbed me and fell back and then threw me out,” Doehner said in a rare interview in 2017. “She tried to get my sister, but she was too heavy, and my mother decided to get out by the time the zeppelin was nearly on the ground.

According to a piece by Eileen AJ Connelly for the New York Post, Doehner suffered from burns to his face, both hands and on his right leg. He remained hospitalized for various treatments and surgery until January of the following year.

Reflecting on my feelings as a young boy that the Hindenburg disaster was ancient history got me thinking a bit about age, and how it alters our perception of history.

I saw events such as the Hindenburg and then World War II, which followed just a couple of years later, as happening in another world. It was simply the stuff of history books, nothing that I could personally relate to in any way.

It makes me wonder if that is how my now 17-year-old granddaughter and 18-year-old nephew, even my older 26-year-old goddaughter, see events from that childhood and youth of mine.

Events such as Watergate and the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the Apollo moon landings, and the Vietnam War. To them, these are nothing more than history book items. Events that happened decades before they were born.

To them, these are only things they might have learned about in a brief school class or on some documentary they might have watched on television. But to me, and to anyone roughly my age or older, these are signature news events and happenings in our lives.

If you bother to take a minute and actually think about it, history is really something. We see many people as nothing more than historic figures, even if we acknowledge them as the most influential or famous of all-time. But each of them actually walked this very same Earth at one point.

Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Cleopatra, Plato, Aristotle, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Leonardo da Vinci, and so many more.

These were real people who, for a moment, walked the roads and streets of the world. They watched the sun rise and set. They enjoyed meals and made love. They traveled, worked, and played.

Events which happened to change the course of history are, to most of us living today, simply the stuff of history books and classes or those TV documentaries.

I’m talking events such as the American revolution, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War, and even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II.

To me, and to you, these are the stuff of history books. Just as was the Hindenburg to me. Just as is the Vietnam War to my young relatives. Just as will the 9/11 attack be to my now 11-year-old grandson and nephews. This is the perspective of time and age on history.

9/11: All Americans should visit the memorials

Yours truly, posing with two of New York’s finest during our visit to the WTC Memorial site in 2015

 

On September 11, 2001, the United States of America came under attack by Islamofascists who were representative of millions around the world who hated – who, in fact, still hate – our way of life.

Thousands of Americans were killed and injured. The iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York fell. The eye of the Pentagon, the very home of American security, was blackened, with more than a hundred more killed.

And in a previously anonymous field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, United Air Lines Flight 93 exploded into the ground. All 44 people on board were killed, including a number of brave passengers who rushed the terrorists who had overpowered the crew and taken command of their plane.

As with every September 11th since that fateful day, AmericanS remember. Just as with the attack on our nation that occurred on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, we will never, ever forget.

We watch on television and our devices as the President delivers a message to the nation. The roll of names will be read of those who were killed at the various locations in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. They are pictures and sounds that most of us have seen and heard in some version for 18 years now.

But there is another thing that I would recommend every American should do at some point. Actually plan a trip and go to the site of each of these memorials.

In late summer 2015, my wife and I undertook a trip to Manhattan. We stayed at the World Center Hotel, with a room overlooking the World Trade Center memorial site. We visited the memorial area, and went to the top of the new Freedom Tower.

The 9/11 memorial park itself, in the very footprint of the former Twin Towers, is a moving place of reflection adjacent to a beautiful, serene park.

Freedom Tower, formally known now as One World Trade Center, is a majestic, powerful symbol of America’s ability to recover and thrive after attack and disaster.

It was a trip that I am so very glad now that we took. I have not yet been to the Pentagon, or to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They are absolutely on my personal bucket list.

I would encourage all Americans to make a trip to each of these memorials. Being there in person, at the very place where so much death, destruction and carnage took place on that day, really brings it all home so much more powerfully than any television image.

Below are links to many of the official memorial sites and other valuable resources to help plan your trips.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Areas of the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial will be closed for lighting repairs and construction, due to be open fully again by late May 2020.

NEW YORK

PENNSYLVANIA

WASHINGTON, D.C.

READ MORE

(previous related pieces that I’ve published)

7.07.2005 – Hello, American liberals? London calling

11.28.2007 – Seven signs of terrorism

7.23.2008 – Islamism Series: Introduction

9.11.2008 – Incredible 9/11 video

12.30.2008 – American of the Year: George W. Bush

9.11.2009 – 9/11: Not the first attack on America, won’t be the last

9.11.2009 – Where were you?

9.11.2011 – 9/11: Are we expected to forgive?

9.11.2013 – How long will we “Never forget”?

 

 

 

Philadelphia Phillies receive recognition and hand out honors to cancer survivor

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The Phillies have been recognized by US Department of Homeland Security

For fans of the Philadelphia Phillies who may have found themselves stuck waiting in long lines to enter Citizens Bank Park at times this season, the cause has not simply been the increased crowds due to increased interest in a winning ball club.

There has been an increased emphasis on security at the ball park. That increased vigilance has a direct correlation with increased incidents of public violence around the country in a number of settings including workplaces, movie theatres, places of worship, and more.
Last month, the Phillies organization was awarded a SAFETY Act designation by the United States Department of Homeland Security. This special designation came as recognition of the club’s increased commitment to fan safety in the ballpark during not only Phillies game, but also concerts and other special events.
Security is paramount at Citizens Bank Park,” said Salvatore DeAngelis, Phillies Director, Operations/Security per a mid-April press release from the team. “The safety of our fans, employees and players is of the utmost importance. The recognition by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security took place after an almost three-year process and we are honored to be recognized for our efforts.
Over the last handful of seasons, the Phillies have incrementally undertaken a number of security measures in and around the ballpark. They have installed magnetometers at the gates and static crash-rated bollards (operable barriers) near the ballpark, along with portable anti-ram barriers on closed streets.
We have 40,000 people in the park on any given night,” DeAngelis said per Adam Hermann of The Philly Voice. “We want anyone coming to our games to feel safe.
Fans now notice explosive detection canine teams at all vehicle entry points and routine canine patrols at gates. There are counterterrorism officers and mounted police units all over the facility, and improved security collaboration with law enforcement. This includes increased police resources, regular exercises and drills, and ongoing training for club personnel.
The SAFETY (Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) Act was part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, part of the immediate response to the 9/11 terror attacks. It provides incentives for the development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by creating systems of risk and litigation management.
PHILLIES WILL ALSO HAND OUT AN HONOR
On Sunday, May 19 prior to the home game against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies will honor Andy Sealy. The 39-year-old from Delaware County made national news back in 2017 when she held a “goodbye party” for her breasts after she had found out she had breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy.
The Phillies will be specifically honoring Sealy for her extraordinary commitment to “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” and she will take the field that day as part of Major League Baseball’s Honorary Bat Girl program. All 30 teams have selected an individual for their team honors, most of which will take place on Mother’s Day. Since the Phillies are on the road that day, Sealy is being honored on May 19.
I speak out on my disease as often as I can,” said Sealy per an official May 7 press release by the team. “Statistics say my median life span is three years. I don’t follow statistics…never have! I am no longer working, but I am grateful for every breath. This is my NEW NORMAL. THIS is metastatic breast cancer.
MLB has partnered with CrowdRise by GoFundMe to host a fundraising contest for each of the Honorary Bat Girls. The winner of the contest will receive a trip to the 2019 World Series. MLB will donate all funds from the contest to SU2C and Komen.
Phillies fans can support their honoree, Andrea “Andy” Sealy, by making a donation to benefit Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) and Susan G. Komen at this link: VOTE FOR ANDY SEALY.

Islamism Series: American Jihad in the second decade after 9/11

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On July 23, 2008 here at my website, I introduced the “Islamism Series”, which was inspired by a class called ‘Radical Islam’ that I was teaching to police officers at that time as a Sergeant in the Training Bureau of the Philadelphia Police Department.

Over the next year and a half, I wrote 20 pieces in the series. The aim was to educate folks on the history of radical Islam, to comment on current Islamic terrorist attacks, and to keep Americans alert to the continuing threat.

As with other series that are resuming with the re-launch of this website, the “Islamism Series” returns as well. As with the others, it will continue into the future with periodic articles which will continue those original goals of education and commentary on what I believe to be that continuing threat.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten, or you haven’t put the pieces together for yourself. With so much going on these days in the nation and world, who could blame you? But the fact is that radical Islamic attacks right here in America are continuing.

Since the historically devastating attacks of September 11, 2001 there have been at least 14 successful attacks by adherents to the tenets of radical Islam right here in the United States. There have been further countless planned attacks which have been thwarted by law enforcement.

Some would have you believe that this is a brand new phenomenon. Perhaps actual terror groups such as ISIS are just beginning to formally sanction attacks. However, individuals inspired by groups like ISIS have been committing terror attacks for some time.

Of the successful post-9/11 attacks, 13 have occurred since 2009. Nine have happened in just the last four and a half years. If anything, the pace seems to be picking up. This is a problem that is going to get worse, possibly much worse, before it ever gets better.

So in renewing this series, let’s start by reviewing what has happened since the last piece was published in February 2010. Something to catch us up. A reminder that we need to continue to be vigilant.

That last piece in the “Islamism Series” came out in February 2010, just months after a pair of attacks on the United States military here in our homeland. 

In June of 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (born Carlos Bledsoe) committed a drive-by shooting outside of a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the shooting, U.S. Army Private William Long was killed and another soldier was wounded.

Five months later, U.S Army Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, committed the largest mass shooting on a United States military base in our nation’s history. Hasan killed 13 and wounded some three dozen others. 



Since publication of that last piece in the series to this point, more blood has been shed on American soil by Islamic radicals. The first actually came on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

On September 11, 2011 in Waltham, Massachusetts, three men had their throats slashed and were nearly decapitated by Ibragim Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Both of these men had Chechen family backgrounds, and had come under the influence of radical Islam.

If the name of that second killer in Waltham sounds familiar to you, that’s because it should. A year and a half later, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed the Boston Marathon bombing. The brothers killed three, caused 16 others to lose limbs, and injured hundreds more.



In September of 2014, Alton Nolen was suspended from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, just outside of Oklahoma City. Nolen went home, got a knife, and made his way to the company’s main offices. There he attacked one female employee, slashing her throat and completely beheading her. He then slashed another female employee as well. 

As he attempted to behead that second woman, Nolen’s attack was stopped when he was shot by the company C.O.O., who also happened to be a reserve sheriff deputy. An FBI investigation revealed that he had become radicalized, and used “Jah’Keem Yisrael” as his name on Facebook.

The following year, in July 2015, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez committed a pair of drive-by shootings at U.S. military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor in the attack, injuring a police officer and a military recruiter.

 



Just four months later, Faisal Mohammad stabbed four people on the campus of the University of California at Merced. 

One month later, things turned deadly in California. A married couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, entered a Christmas party in a banquet room at the Inland Regional Center with assault rifles. The party was being attended by dozens of employees with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. The couple killed fourteen and injured two dozen. They fled and were killed hours later after a shootout with police that injured a pair of officers. It was the deadliest Islamic terror attack since 9/11.

If you thought that 2015 was bad, you hadn’t seen anything yet. The next year opened with a February 2016 attack by Mohamed Barry at the Nazareth Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. There he slashed four patrons with a machete. He fled, and was later shot dead by police following a car chase. It would be the first of two radical Islamic attacks in the city last year.

Four months later, in June 2016, came the Orlando, Florida shooting at Pulse, a gay night club. Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured another 58. This remains the largest radical Islamist shooting attack in U.S. history, and is second only to this year’s attack in Las Vegas as far as mass shooting casualties.



Five months later, in November 2016, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Ohio State University was the scene of the second attack in Columbus, Ohio during 2016. The Department received a phone call regarding a fluorine leak, and so students were evacuated. 

As students and faculty congregated outside, Abdul Razak Ali Artan deliberately drove his car into the group. He then exited the vehicle with a butcher knife, and stabbed multiple people. He was shot and killed minutes later by responding police after injuring a dozen people.

An eerily quiet 2017 was ended on Halloween. That afternoon in Manhattan, Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov drove a rented truck onto the Hudson River Bike Path. He mowed down a number of bicyclists and runners over approximately one mile before crashing into a school bus. After fleeing the vehicle, Saipov was shot and arrested by police. Eight died and a dozen more were injured in the ISIL-inspired attack.



83 people dead. Hundreds injured, many left permanently disabled. All killed and wounded by individuals inspired by radical Islam and its jihadist ideology. All in the little more than seven and a half years since the last ‘Islamism Series’ piece was published.

Don’t let anyone try to tell you that this is not a legitimate ongoing threat to America. Inspired terrorists are out there right now, considering soft targets of all types. From sporting venues to movie theaters to concert halls, citizens need to be alert. 

There has been some version of a “See Something, Say Something” program happening in almost every community in our country over the last decade or so. More than that, Americans need to be prepared to respond, to act, if they find themselves and their family and friends facing a mortal threat.

As we move forward, I will continue to provide valuable information on radical Islam within this ‘Islamism Series’, and will cover major stories that inevitably occur involving these continuing jihadist attacks.

How Long Will We "Never Forget"?

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For the past 11 years on this date, we’ve all heard, spoke, typed a now familiar refrain: “Never Forget!”

What we must never forget, of course, are the attacks against our nation on September 11th, 2001 by radical Islamists bringing their war against western civilization right to our doorsteps.

Today, I heard a couple of different things that made me realize just how difficult a proposition that it is to actually “never forget” something, even something as big as 9/11.

First, on my drive in to work this morning, I was listening to a radio station when the usual cast of morning show hosts began to discuss the date, and to go over their memories of that Tuesday morning.

Those of us who experienced it can remember clearly what an absolutely gorgeous, perfect morning it was – clear skies and comfortable temperatures. The kind of day you give thanks to the Lord for blessing us with.

Then everything changed, in a span of just 17 minutes between 8:46 and 9:03 am, when those sons of Muhammad crashed a pair of hijacked airliners into each of the iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on the waterfront of Manhattan island in New York City. Just over a half hour later, a 3rd airliner crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a 4th crashed into a field in Pennsylvania a half hour after that.

The United States of America was under attack on our own shores for the first time in 60 years, the first time since World War II, when the Japanese decimated the American naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The ensuing chaos, the grounding of flights across the nation’s skies, the collapse of the iconic towers, the growing numbers of people lost and killed. Firefighters, police officers, other rescue workers, and regular citizens putting their lives on the line to attempt and effect rescues.

How could anyone who lived through it ever forget all that.

Ah, but there’s the rub. You see, not everyone alive today lived through that, at least not in their conscious memories. Those radio hosts that I was listening to brought up that their kids, now in the upper levels of elementary school and in junior high, had no direct memory of 9/11 whatsoever. Sure, they saw films on TV, but for these kids, and for many kids today of any high school age, the experience is not what adults of that day remember, if these kids and teens recall anything of it first-hand.

The second thing that happened today was that my brother complained that there had been no widespread, organized “Moment of Silence” at 9:37 am, the time that the 3rd plane had exploded into the side of the Pentagon, and a moment that had been memorialized each year since.

My explanation didn’t seem to satisfy him, but I believe it is no less true. We are not going to, as a nation, “Never Forget” – at least we are not going to remember with the raw emotion that people who are now in their mid-20’s and older feel.

My brother felt that “poor planning may have played a role” in this particular instance, and he may be right. But that only serves to highlight my point – there would have been no such “poor planning” in 2002 or 2005 or 2008.

The further we get away from that day, the more people are going to not build every emotional remembrance into their planning, and the more people who experienced it at all are simply going to have left this earth.

For kids today, their memory of 9/11 is what mine would be of the Kennedy assassination – nothing. Sure, I was alive when JFK was killed in Dallas in November 1963, but I was days shy of my 2nd birthday. There was no way that I was going to have any memory of that event, even though it was on our home television daily, and even though every fabric of society around me was affected deeply. I learned of and know about the events from TV, movie, and book accounts. I know of the event as history. That’s how today’s kids know 9/11, as history.

So while we will not forget the events of the morning of September 11th, 2001 for a long time, and those of us who actually lived it will carry it with us for decades still to come, some for maybe as much as 2/3 of a century, the fact is that one day 9/11 will be to citizens of the United States what Pearl Harbor is to us today – history. Sure, we will keep on saying that we must “Never Forget”, but the raw emotional power of the moment will be gone.

The real challenge is to make sure that Americans of any age and time never forget the important turning points in our nation’s history, from Lexington & Concord to Gettysburg, from Pearl Harbor to Dallas, from Memphis to Shanksville.

We need to ensure that even as the emotion passes, and as every person alive that day passes, that the people of the United States somehow learn to “Never Forget” the events that have shaped the very fabric of the greatest nation that God has ever blessed.