New Jersey lost some 700 people in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Three of those people were from Fair Lawn. That makes the gift the borough received this week – mangled steel recovered from the ruins, to be part of a memorial – particularly precious. It’s also particularly meaningful, coming as we mark the ninth anniversary of that terrible day. (Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who presented the section of steel to Fair Lawn, will also present sections to East Brunswick, Hamilton, Iselin, Linden, Manalapan, Matawan, Monroe Township, Mount Laurel, Toms River, Vineland, and Woodstown.)
But this nation lost more than thousands of living beings on that day, at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on Flight 93.
We lost more than the twin towers. In our grief and rage, we lost our sense of who we are and what we stand for. We went to war with a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 – a war that cost us “blood and treasure.” We must acknowledge the defeat and demise of Saddam Hussein, but are we sure that the Iraqis thank us? And though we’re exiting that war – sort of – look at the mess we’re leaving behind, despite what the politicos and generals say.
The day we commemorate on Saturday has brought us to a terrible moment in another sense: a continuing outpouring of rage against not just the 19 perpetrators, not just their Al Qaeda handlers, but – it is beginning to seem – anyone who is Muslim. This is collective punishment, something Jews, unfortunately, are quite familiar with, given centuries-old accusations of deicide.
The latest recrudescence is the plan, by a so-called Christian pastor, to hold a public burning of Korans. The burning, should it take place, will undoubtedly be flashed across the globe on the Internet and on television, and it is highly likely it will inflame passions and end in attacks on Americans living and traveling abroad and on American soldiers in Afghanistan.
If just one American dies because of this ill-considered vengeful act, it will be the fault of that pastor and all who egged him on. It will also be the fault of our president, who could not seem to find the way to be a moral leader and speak out against it.
Dear readers, we hate to trouble you with these thoughts during the High Holidays. In advance of Yom Kippur, please forgive us. We wish you all a good and healthy and happy and sweet and safe year.