I am sure we all remember what we were doing and where we were on September 11, 2001. I know that I do. I was in bay 1E677 in the Pentagon serving as a DA Civilian on the Army Staff (ACSIM). Two co-workers were among those killed that day and Lt Col Brian Birdwell was severely burned but survived to write a book “Refined by Fire” in which he related what happened that fateful day. President Bush convened an ecumenical service a few days later in which he reminded us that although the terrorists claimed to be Muslims, we should not blame ALL Muslims for what happened that day. Congressmembers linked arms on the Capitol steps and as one sang God Bless America. We went into Afghanistan and then Iraq determined to “ bring the terrorists to Justice or the Justice to the Terrorists” in the words of our president then. When we were allowed back into the Pentagon on the following Monday, Major General Van Antwerp, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management (ACSIM) brought us together and after pausing to honor all who died, told us something that I try to recall every day—If you have any grievances against anyone, get rid of them, and tell those you love, that you love them.
Looking back now 20 years later, it would be unrealistic to think that Congressmembers could link arms on the steps of the Capitol and sing God Bless America again , but perhaps they could revisit the War Powers Act and our place in the world and what we want our military to do going forward . Of course, our immediate concern, is how do we get the remaining US citizens, green card holders and Afghanis who have helped us, get out of the country? How do we protect the women and girls who have grown up in a different society than what was there 20 years ago? A good sign in this country is that so many are welcoming those Afghanis who helped us. There is even a group of former Vietnamese Refugees in Philadelphia who are helping them get settled there. I recall these Vietnamese refugees from my time as an army Lt Colonel at Fort Indiantown Gap on 1975 and I helped them. Great to see them repay the kindness they were greeted with.
God Bless America!
Anthony V. Fasolo