It was entirely fitting that the finest speech from Saturday’s 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was delivered by an ordinary citizen. The speech by a man named Gordon Felt was the perfect echo of the moral clarity, sacrifice and heroism performed by so many ordinary citizens on Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Felt was not the most famous speaker to deliver remarks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Saturday morning. Nor was he the keynote.
The ceremony heaved hot air from professional politicians who have made livings out of speechifying, including a former governor, a former president and the sitting vice president of the United States.
President George W. Bush spoke, reminding everyone why nobody remembers him as a great speaker. One of his most endearing qualities has always been his inability to speak.
Remarkably, Mr. Bush failed to mention the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan that he led us into after the 9/11 attacks, except for a brief nod to our “armed forces” fighting in “our nation’s most recent battles.” Yes, yes, so much recent unpleasantness.
Mr. Bush reminisced about the “amazing, resilient, united people” who came together in America in the months following 9/11. And he lamented the discord that followed.
“A malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures,” he said. “So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment.”
In a moment of stunning honesty, Mr. Bush added: “I come without explanations or solutions.”
Gee, Mr. President, it would have been nice if you had told us this 20 years ago.
In the months and years after 9/11, President Bush had all the explanations and all the solutions. And politicians like then-Sen. Joe Biden — our current president — agreed with all Mr. Bush’s explanations and solutions.
Until he didn’t. Remarkably, Mr. Biden’s agreement and disagreement with Mr. Bush’s explanations and solutions have always lined up perfectly with whatever serves Mr. Biden’s personal political interests at any given moment. To Mr. Bush’s eternal credit, he never waffled with political winds on his convictions about the wars he dragged us into.
True believers can be a little dangerous — but at least they are consistent.
Meanwhile, at the White House, this 20th anniversary of 9/11 has gone a bit off the rails. President Biden had intended for it to be a great political “photo op” of him gallantly declaring victory in Afghanistan and finally bringing our boys home.
Instead, he killed 13 U.S. troops, abandoned Americans and allies on the battlefield, imported a humanitarian crisis into the United States and delivered one of the largest militaries on earth into the evil hands of our enemies — who happen to be the same psycho Islamist terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.
As they say in Mr. Biden’s political world, “bad optics.”
So they sent Kamala Harris to speak in Shanksville instead. Everybody in America already hates her, so, really, what difference does it make?
She did not disappoint — though, thankfully, she did manage to speak for an entire eight minutes without breaking into one of her hysterical cackling fits.
Ms. Harris took the sacred opportunity to harangue Americans for not being more unified.
“Unity is possible in America,” she scolded, one year after warning the world not to take any COVID-19 vaccine developed under President Trump.
“Unity is imperative in America,” she preached on. “It is essential to our shared prosperity, to our national security, and to our standing in the world.”
Yes, Ms. Harris. Please, more lectures about our standing in the world.
All this from the same woman who ran for president claiming America is a racist country and vowing to defund the police in the face of looting and mayhem? This from the woman who spent the last year and a half seizing a global pandemic to sow political discord?
She also took the solemn opportunity to lecture us about all the bigotry that was spawned by “fear” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Shut up and sit down. Just listen to the words of Gordon Felt, ordinary citizen, and you might actually learn something.
Mr. Felt’s brother, Edward Porter Felt, was among “the 40” ordinary citizens on Flight 93 that crashed into a field on that crisp day 20 years ago under cloudless, crystal blue skies.
When his brother and other passengers on the flight realized their plane had been hijacked by Islamist terrorists and was intended to be used as a weapon to blow up the U.S. Capitol, they determined to sacrifice all and fight back.
“They prayed,” he said. “They VOTED.” Here he drew out the word.
“And they struck,” Mr. Felt said.
“Though in the process they lost their lives, there is no question that they won the first battle in this current war on terrorism,” Mr. Felt said.
For 35 minutes, the 40 ordinary citizens battled pure evil for control of the cockpit.
It was, Mr. Felt noted under the same crisp skies, a “lifetime. A moment. Forever. Yesterday.”
Mr. Felt did not carry a lecture or a political message. He simply asked a question, 20 years after his brother and so many others died American heroes.
“Are we worthy of their sacrifice?’ he asked. “Are we worthy?”
Do we as Americans living today, he wondered, “conduct ourselves in a manner that would make those who sacrificed so much and fought so hard on September 11 proud of who we have become?”
Do we, Ms. Harris?
• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at the Washington Times.
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