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The Exponent Telegram: Are we our own worst enemy?

By Andy Kniceley


The Exponent Telegram


Today is the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that will forever be known as 9/11.

On this day, we saw thousands of Americans perish as Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and used them as kamikaze-style attacks against targets that symbolized American power to the world. It was the largest attack made against the U.S. on American soil since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Two of the jets were crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center causing them to collapse before our eyes on live TV killing about 3,000 Americans and injuring about 6,000 more.

On this day, we saw the bravery of a handful of U.S. citizens thwart an attempt of another hijacking of Flight 93, forcing the plane to crash near Somerset, Pennsylvania, killing all on board but keeping that plane from being used as another weapon in the terrorist attack against innocent American civilians. It is believed that the target of this aircraft was intended to be the White House itself.

On this day, we saw yet a third attack of a hijacked jet crashed into the Pentagon — the symbol of America’s military defense headquarters leading to a partial collapse of the building’s western side.

For a brief period following the Sept. 11th attacks, Americans stood together as a proud nation ready to defend our country against all enemies foreign and domestic. Our nation’s political leaders put partisan politics aside if only for a short time to wage the War on Terror and seek out the mastermind of the terrorists’ plot, Osama Bin Laden, and bring him to justice.

Following the crisis, America showed her true colors as we stood together ready to protect our children, our communities and our way of life. Compassion for our fellow Americans crossing lines of race, age and socio-economic status gave the world a glimpse of the strength of our great nation when we truly stand united together.

However, as easily as daylight turns into darkness it seemed as though our unity and national pride were soon relegated to the back-burner once the initial threat was gone.

Instead, today our nation seems more divided than ever before.

It seems as though the very freedoms that make our nation great — freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion — are the very things that are being used to divide us.

Differences in our beliefs on income-inequality, LGBT rights, racial tensions, drug addictions, gun violence and social entitlement programs have separated us and divided us like never before.

It has come to the point where some have opted to express their protest against our nation for what they believe are injustices done by our government against certain groups.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has immersed himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

However, refusal to support the American flag as a means to take a stand has brought incredible backlash to Kaepernick as a privileged multi-millionaire professional athlete who has benefited more than most from the opportunities that our free nation provides — freedoms that were fought for and secured by American patriots, soldiers and hundreds of thousands of armed service personnel who have fought and died to protect our rights and freedoms all around the world. Also, for our police officers and emergency personnel who keep the peace and fight every day the war against drug abuse that is ravaging our nation’s soul.

Yet, we must all understand that the same freedoms that we hold so dearly also guarantees him the right to express his beliefs in such a manner.

I truly believe that we must return to teaching civics class in our public schools. We must educate our youth about the greatness of our Republic and the principles of democracy that our nation is based on. We must understand and appreciate the fundamentals of our freedoms and the responsibility each of us has as a citizen.

Our nation’s enemies will continue to plot to kill, steal and destroy our freedoms in an attempt to tear our nation apart. We can never forget that we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world and when we stand together nothing can ever defeat us.

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