September 11, 2001, was a day so monumentally tragic, its memory seems more like a dream than reality. The world came to a grinding halt as thousands of innocent civilian lives were cut short by the sword of radical Islamic terrorism.
Nineteen jihadists, all hailing from the Middle East, were able to pull off the most massive terror strike in world history. The attacks we suffered that day were not only against our nation but also on Judeo-Christian Western civilization and all the freedoms and prosperity it provides.
The twin towers were not only the tallest buildings in New York City, but they also symbolized capitalism, freedom and the American dream; a pinnacle of unequivocal success only achieved in a society built on Judeo-Christian values and principles. The towers said to the world, "This is what Western civilization is capable of producing, a society of unlimited achievement, innovation, strength and success." This unmistakable message was the real target of those who brought down the towers.
What Our Enemies Hate Most
America also is viewed as the epitome of Judeo-Christian exceptionalism by our enemies. Jihadists don't concern themselves with Western opinions about America, and in their view, America is Westernization at its most powerful.
This concept is critically important to understand. Americans were shocked and confused on September 11, 2001, because they couldn't imagine how anyone could commit such an evil act. "What did we do to deserve this?" they asked.
Jihadists hate us because we are infidels, and they view our way of life as a direct threat to theirs. This belief, embedded in jihadist ideology, functions as the Islamist justification for the atrocities committed on 9/11.
Unfortunately, what we cherish most about America is what our enemies hate most about our country. While the Western world mourned on September 11, 2001, Palestinians danced in the streets with joy. In the Western world, we love and celebrate life. In the Islamic world, they love and celebrate death. That's a contrast with profoundly dangerous consequences.
The Wake-Up Call from Hell
In the aftermath of September 11, Americans were more unified than they'd been since World War II. Flags flew on almost every porch. Patriotic bumper stickers were on every car. In every mall, park or public gathering, a sea of T-shirts displayed our flag or slogans like "God Bless America" or "Never Forget."
Athletes and fans stood proudly for our national anthem. Celebrities were proud to voice their love for this country and their gratitude for the opportunities and protections it provided them. We all felt as lucky to be Americans as we did to be alive. We held our loved ones more tightly and waved our flags more proudly.
Even those who disagreed with George W. Bush respected him enough to call him our president and passionately cheered when he threw the first pitch during the World Series at Yankee Stadium that autumn.
Political disagreements of the past were suddenly meaningless. All that mattered was our American identity. We realized that what unified us was so much stronger and more important than what divided us.
Support for our troops was never higher across all industries, including leftist Hollywood. We realized the dangers we all faced moving forward in this fight against Islamic terrorism, and we willingly came together to restore our feeling of security. How I wish for the sake of our nation that such patriotic unity would've lasted.