Freedom, liberty at heart of conflict

After attending a couple of events last week commemorating 9/11 and watching television coverage it is hard to believe how overwhelming that day still seems.

Ten years seems like an eternity when I look at all that has happened in my personal life over that time. When I see the images of that day and listen to the stories, though, it seems like last night’s dream that hasn’t ended.

As many people had surmised the events of that day changed our world forever and left a generation that has only known our country at war.

I thought it would maybe be therapeutic for me to dig up a column that summed up my thoughts 10 years ago. The one that is the most telling of my state of mind was written the week we put American troops in action in Afghanistan.

The following is from the Oct. 11, 2001 Valley Journal, a weekly that served Carbondale, Colo.:

“I can still very vividly remember the first time the gravity of war struck home for me. That memory has haunted me over the last few weeks since learning of the gravity of our current national situation.

I don’t know the exact year, but it would have been in the late 1960s and I was still in grade school. I remember watching the nightly newscast on the television while my mother ironed clothes. With Walter Cronkite talking over a scene of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam carrying dead and wounded to waiting helicopters, it suddenly hit me that we had been at war as long as I could recall. The concept of death became very real as I pictured myself having to fight in Vietnam.

I broke down in tears.

As my mother tried to comfort and reassure me we both ended up crying. A realize now that she knew she couldn’t promise that I would never have to go to war. But as I remember it, she still was able to comfort without making a promise.

As it turned out I missed the tail-end of the Vietnam draft — only by a couple of years — and was too old once the Selective Service Act went back into place in the late 1970s. It turned out that I came of age at precisely the start of one of the most peaceful times this nation has known.

I was worried with the start of Desert Storm that we were headed into another conflict that could scar the nation like Vietnam had. Iraq hadn’t attacked us directly and neither had North Vietnam. Both conflicts seemed a little hard to justify when you got right down to it.

Desert Storm ended quickly and without another generation being scarred by year after year of death in our living rooms. Some argue that it ended too prematurely precisely for that reason.

More than 30 years after war first scarred my psyche through a television tube, it happened again on Sept. 11. This time it was different.

As that first tower in New York crumbled, I fell to my knees in a prayer for the nation, the world and the poor souls trapped inside the building. As the events of that day unfolded, I came to realize how this scar was going to be different. The horrible terror of the day justified, even cried for a response that would prevent anything similar from ever happening again.

War is a terrible thing and it is indeed disheartening to learn that the conflict we began to prosecute on Sunday morning won’t end anytime soon. One of the greatest consolations to being at war this time is the knowledge that the reasons should be very evident to all but the most callous liberals in this country.

In the coming years, if a young boy bursts into tears in front of the nightly news his mother will be able to tell him about the innocent American lives that were wasted at the start of this conflict and the need for sacrifices to protect liberty and freedom.”

Karl Terry writes for Freedom New Mexico. Contact him at: