Tag Archives: New York

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.

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(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”?

 

 

 

Will Freedom of the Press Fall in Winter?

I like to consider myself a “Constitutionalist” – I’m a big fan of the United States Constitution. I believe it to be one of the most inspired governmental documents that mankind has ever conceived.

I believe that in court rulings it should be interpreted narrowly by modern jurists.

I also believe that the Constitution as originally conceived by our nation’s Founding Fathers was inspired by God Almighty, and that America has received blessings over our history because of a continued striving towards what we stated from the very beginning when we declared ourselves free: that men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The U.S. Constitution has built into it an ‘amendment’ process, a means of altering, adding to, or taking away from the freedoms guaranteed to “We the People” by our nation and it’s laws.

This amendment process has been successfully utilized to do just that in the past. There have been 27 amendments to the Constitution which have been ‘ratified’, or passed into law by the states.

The first ten of these amendments came almost immediately. Within a couple of years of the original Constitution being ratified, the first ten amendments had been proposed and added.

They became collectively known as the “Bill of Rights“, and contain protections to freedoms that we all as Americans have come to take for granted. Included among them was this very first amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

There is divinely inspired genius right there in the body of the First Amendment. It encapsulates in a few sentences our basic freedoms of religion (not from religion, by the way), our freedom of speech, our free press, and our right to gather in protest of the government itself when we have legitimate grievances.

Why was a freedom “of the press” deemed to be so important? It is my position that it was of basic, fundamental importance back then in colonial times, and remains just as important today. This freedom, like many others in that beautiful document, is under attack from a government that increasingly does not like being restricted by such constitutional principles.

Let me preface this particular discussion also with the fact that my choice of professions has been in law enforcement. I have been an American law enforcement officer for more than 23 years. Between myself and other members of my family, we have served our municipality in this role for more than a half century.

I make that preface in admittance of the fact that there has always been and will continue to be a tension at times between the two professions of law enforcement and the media. We recognize the importance and necessity of their role, but we always strive to ensure our first priority of protecting evidence and preserving certain facts and knowledge as we pursue justice for victims of criminal acts.

The media simply should not have the absolute final say in releasing all the details to the public of the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of every crime.

I think we can all agree on the common sense of wanting to protect certain aspects of an investigation for public safety and/or prosecutorial reasons. Sometimes we disagree with the media on the particulars, and these circumstances are often decided by judges in the specific court cases.

We have to try to ensure that people do indeed receive a fair trial, which would be pretty difficult if the media presented all of the evidence and testimony on public news broadcasts before and during such legal proceedings, that much is obvious to anyone. Cases simply cannot be tried through television presentations by TV anchors and reporters.

The role of the media is to keep the public informed. They also have an investigative role: to ensure that the public is indeed receiving truthful information from not only law enforcement, but the government as a whole. This is the vital import of the purpose of including a “Freedom of the Press” within the First Amendment: to ensure that a corrupt government, or individual corrupt officials, or specific corrupt instances do not occur without the knowledge of the American people.

All of this prefaces the current case of Fox News reporter Jana Winter, who is under attack from the state of Colorado in relation to her reporting on the sensational case of mass murderer James Holmes. He is the man who went on a shooting rampage inside an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, killing 12 and injuring dozens more during a premier showing of the film “Batman, The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012.

Less than a week after the shooting, Winter reported that Holmes had sent a notebook which supposedly contains written descriptions, drawings and other illustrations of the attack he was then planning to a University of Colorado psychiatrist prior to the shooting. Winter claimed that she had received the information regarding the notebook from unidentified “law enforcement sources.” There is a belief that this notebook sat unopened in the university mail room for as much as a week prior to the shooting.

Defense attorneys were disturbed by Winter’s reporting, claiming that it violated a judge’s gag order, and that it denied Holmes a fair trial by leaking potentially incriminating information. Various law enforcement officers were interviewed, and all denied being the source. The judge in the case then ordered Winters to turn over all of her relevant materials by this coming January.

On her side, Winter has denied the court’s request. She has traveled to Colorado from her New York home base four times in relation to the case. She claims that the right to protect her sources is guaranteed by the First Amendment, and even additionally by New York’s media shield laws which give reporters in the Empire State absolute protections in confidential newsgathering, including a right to keep sources private.

Colorado has similar media shield laws, but they are far less protective for reporters, and include that members of the media can be jailed for refusal to name sources, which cannot happen in New York. In short, if ultimately forced to travel to Colorado in January and turn over the materials, and on refusal of same, she could be jailed until such times as she complies with the judge’s order.

Winter has been fighting against being forced to turn over the information. In New York, she narrowly lost a 3-2 decision in a lower court back in March. One of the dissenting judge’s noted the importance of her stand when he commented that she “relies upon confidential sources for her livelihood” further stating that “her sources would not speak to her if she divulged their identities.” The judge also correctly pointed out that forcing her to release these sources would be “nothing short of undermining her career, the very means of her livelihood.

This coming Tuesday, Jana Winter will return to court, this time in Albany in front of the highest court in the state. There the New York State Court of Appeals will hear her plea to reverse that lower court ruling. It may be her last chance to lawfully avoid that January trip to Colorado where her credibility or her freedom will be put on the stand.

It’s a shame that things have reached this stage in the United States of America. Jana Winter didn’t kill anyone, James Holmes did, and that is where all of the focus and effort should be in this case. Winter is simply a reporter who was given interesting information in a high-profile case by a member of law enforcement. She then reported on the information, which was indeed interesting at the time, under the belief that reporting from New York she had certain protections.

The information released by Winter was no more sensational than what Holmes actually did, in fact it was far less. Holmes walked into a movie theater and in front of hundreds of witnesses he blasted away at the heart of a Colorado community. There is tons of evidence against James Holmes. The simple revelation of the existence of the journal and drawings does nothing to change what Holmes did that night, and nothing that alters his guilt.

There are legitimate issues raised by the presence of the journal and the drawings. Did someone know about the intentions of James Holmes before the shooting took place? Was someone informed who then chose to ignore or lessen the importance of the information? Did the university or any of it’s employees, even law enforcement itself have any knowledge of the danger posed by Holmes prior to the shooting?

Even if none of them knew, could they or should they have known? The public has a legitimate right to know whether Holmes attack could have been avoided.

From where I sit, seeing both sides of the issue, this is simply an attack against the First Amendment itself. Yes, the media has responsibilities. A responsibility to respect the criminal case. A responsibility to not release vital evidence of importance to the successful defense or prosecution of a criminal case. I fail to see how that responsibility was abridged in this case.

The media also has a responsibility to the public, and it also has Constitutional rights in pursuing and ensuring that it meets that responsibility. That right to truthfully and completely report a story on behalf of the American public is what Jana Winter did on Fox News. Let’s hope the higher court makes the right decision in the coming week, for her, and for all of us.

New life in death for a moral compass

“He has now been gathered by the Lord, in whom he trusted.”

Those are the words of Fr. George Butler, who administered the last rites of the Church on Thursday to one Richard John Neuhaus.

At age 72, the former Lutheran clergyman turned Catholic priest died after a short battle against the cancer with which he had been diagnosed in late 2008.

If you moved on after having caught a blurb of his passing on the TV news, or having seen a headline in a newspaper the past couple days, wondering why the big deal about a priest’s death from cancer, you moved on too quickly.

This was not simply the death of your Average Joe after one of life’s most common end games. This was, as Philadelphia’s great newspaper The Bulletin called it, the loss of a “moral compass.”

Fr. Neuhaus was one of the leading voices in the Church and in the country in defense of the millions of innocent children butchered each year in abortion procedures.

He was said to be an articulate defender of Catholic orthodoxy, and perhaps the leading conservative Catholic voice in the country.

Fr. Neuhaus also had a vision, the dream of many of today’s Catholics, to see the Lord’s Church whole again.

In the 1990’s, Fr. Neuhaus joined with leading Protestant voice Chuck Colson in editing the work ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission’ which was an effort to highlight the common mission and shared values of the two Christian traditions, including their opposition to abortion.

It should be one of the fervent prayers of all Christians to again one day see the differences that led to the great schism in the Church set aside, and for Protestants to end their ‘protest’ and return to the Mother Church. Fr. Neuhaus shared this dream, this vision, this hope.

Fr. Neuhaus knew well the traditions of both Protestants and Catholics. He was born into a Lutheran family as one of eight children. He became ordained as a Lutheran minister and served as an activist pastor in New York in the Bedford-Stuyvesant ghettos of Brooklyn.

In the 1970’s he preached against the Vietnam war, then turned his attention towards the growing genocide created by legalized abortion. Then in 1990, Lutheran minister Richard Neuhaus had his great conversion, becoming a Catholic. A year later he was ordained as a Catholic priest.

He became a highly regarded writer, particularly on life issues, and became an unofficial advisor on these to President George W. Bush who called him ‘Fr. Richard’, helping the President to articulate religious principles. President Bush correctly summed it up by stating that Fr. Neuhaus “devoted his life to the service of the Almighty and to the betterment of our world.”

Humanity lost a great voice on Thursday, particularly that part of humanity that still lies in the wombs of women the world over and cannot yet speak for itself.

It should be all of our goal, as Fr. Neuhaus wished, to see that those voices get the same chance to actually speak one day as we ourselves have received.

By moving in the direction set by this great moral compass of a man, by maintaining and spreading his mission to defend unborn children, we assure that his life’s mission goes on. And as Christians we understand full well that this is not the end for this great believer. Father Richard Neuhaus may be lost to us here on earth for now, but he now begins a new life in the presence of God.

Incredible 9/11 Video

Embed from Getty Images

I was going to write today on the 7th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but there is just so much information out there, and so many perspectives that have already been shared, that it was difficult to decide from what angle I wanted to approach it this time.

Then I came across a video at the National Terror Alert website, and I knew that the best thing to do would be to simply share that video.

It was shot as a home video by a couple living in an apartment building just 500 yards from the North Tower of the World Trade Center, with a remarkable view and incredible real-time commentary from the couple as they viewed things happening live that tragic, unforgettable morning.

View the video here: 9/11 VIDEO and never forget!