Remembering the meaning of Patriot Day

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By Bill McHugh

Patriot Day is observed Sept. 11 in memory of the 2,993 people who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States.
Anyone who was alive at the time remembers what they were doing when four United States airliners were hijacked by terrorists intent on harming innocent American civilians.
Two of the hijacked plans were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third hijacked aircraft crashed into the Pentagon near Washington, DC. The fourth plane it is assumed was destined for the U.S. Capitol or the White House.
Before the fourth plane could engage its target, passengers were aware of what had happened to the three other aircraft. Passengers on the fourth plane then took matters into their own hands while the plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania. This act of heroism by the passengers on the fourth aircraft saved the lives of many more Americans. As a result, on Dec. 18, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law this discretionary day of remembrance. The American flag should be flown at half-staff at home and at all U.S. government buildings.
The country was stunned by the tragedies, which were totally unanticipated by the public which emerged from a source that was completely unknown to most Americans. Within hours of the attack, the Bush administration determined that Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network had masterminded the plan and that al Qaeda operated out of Afghanistan with the blessing of that country’s ruling party, the Taliban. As a result, the Bush administration developed a new doctrine, called the Bush Doctrine, which declared America’s right to fight a “preemptive war” against any nation that, one day, might threaten the United States.
This may seem like a presumptive abuse of power based upon a sudden Pearl Harbor style of aggression against the United States. However, it’s important to remember the events that precipitated the incident on Sept. 11, 2001.
1993: Feb. 26, the first World Trade Center bombing. The World Trade Center in New York City was badly damaged when a car bomb planted by Islamic terrorists exploded in an underground garage. The bomb left six people dead and 1,000 injured. The men carrying out the attack were followers of Umar Abd al-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric who preached in the New York City area.
1993: April 14, attempted assassination of President Bush by Iraqi agents. The Iraqi intelligence service attempted to assassinate former U.S. President George Bush during a visit to Kuwait. In retaliation, the U.S. launched a cruise missile attack two months later on the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
1995: March 8, attack on U.S. diplomats in Pakistan. Two unidentified gunmen killed two U.S. diplomats and wounded a third in Karachi, Pakistan. Saudi military installation attack, Nov. 13.
1996: June 25, the Khobar Towers bombing. A fuel truck carrying a bomb exploded outside the US military’s Khobar Towers housing facility in Dhahran, killing 19 U.S. military personnel and wounding 515 persons. Several groups claimed responsibility.
1998: Aug. 7, U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa. A bomb exploded at the rear entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 U.S. citizens, 32 Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs), and 247 Kenyan citizens. Approximately 5,000 Kenyans, six U.S. citizens, and 13 FSNs were injured. The U.S. Embassy building sustained extensive structural damage. Almost simultaneously, a bomb detonated outside the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing seven FSNs and three Tanzanian citizens, and injuring one U.S. citizen and 76 Tanzanians. The explosion caused major structural damage to the U.S. Embassy facility. The U.S. Government held Usama Bin Laden responsible.
2000: Oct. 12, attack on U.S.S. Cole. In Aden, Yemen, small dingy carrying explosives rammed the destroyer U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others. Supporters of Usama Bin Laden were suspected.
2001: Sept. 11, terrorist attacks on U.S. homeland. President Bush and Cabinet officials indicated that Usama Bin Laden was the prime suspect and that they considered the United States in a state of war with international terrorism. In the aftermath of the attacks, the United States formed the Global Coalition Against Terrorism.
This list of terrorist acts against the United States is not all inclusive but does represent a clear and present danger to the United States during the 911 attacks. As a result, a new governmental organization was created; the Department of Homeland Security was developed to combat this threat to the citizens of the Unites States. As a result, since Sept. 11, 2001, numerous attacks against the citizens of the United States have been thwarted.

The author teaches history courses at the Lawrenceburg campus of Bluegrass Community Technical College.