- 2001: Discovery to Destruction
September 18, 2001
It was a beautiful late-summer day in 1609 when Henry Hudson
entered the mouth of the river and captured his first glimpse
of the island known today as Manhattan. With the sun warming
his face and the wind blowing through his hair, he noticed
his 80-ton/20-man ship was creaking and moaning beneath him.
He shook his head in wonder at the same time his emotions
were filling with excitement and anticipation, bringing a
smile to his face. Was this the passage to the east? Had he
finally found it?
His quest for the North-West passage had been long and hard.
It led him through severe storms, threats of mutiny and countless
dead-ends ranging from the coast of Maine to the Chesapeake
and Delaware Bays. Somehow his ship "Half Moon" had managed
to hold her own and was now making a very steady 5 knots up
the Hudson river. A river which he later named the "River
How coincidental that 85 years earlier, an Italian, Giovanni
da Verranzano, discovered the mouth of this very river and
named it "River of the Steep Hills."
How coincidental that the date was September 12, 1609 which
makes it 392 years to the day when America would awaken to
realize she was not dreaming. The suicide-bombing nightmare
of the World Trade Center was not a dream. It was real and
as a consequence, life in America would change forever. Of
course, Hudson had no way of knowing this.
As the Half Moon made her way slowly up the river on that
September day, Hudson stared at the tip of Manhattan and envisioned
something great happening there some day. Indeed he was correct.
That happening would be the rise of the greatest city of modern
time. Within that great city would be magnificent structures,
standing tall, showing their proud faces to the world. Among
them would be the World Trade Center. Towering over the lower
Manhattan skyline they would be the first visible signs of
America, letting new-comers know that it is just minutes until
the Lady of Liberty will be in sight, holding her right arm
straight and strong with the symbol of freedom. Welcome to
The twin towers are gone now. Brutally destroyed by foreign
terrorists. We need not go over the details, we know them
all too well. Images of the twin-engine jets crashing into
each of the towers are forever frozen in every American's
mind. The questions now, are what do we do about it, where
do we go from here and how do we make the pain go away? These
are not easy questions to answer.
There is no doubt we will be asking ourselves these same
questions well into the forseeable future. Terrorist acts
are inherently difficult to prevent which allows for them
to be carried out practically at will. Unless we find a way
to prevent them, we will experience them over and over again.
Add the fanatical nature of individuals who carry out these
often suicidal assaults, then add the religious zeal involved
and now you have a recipe for terror taken to a level that
defies all rational thinking. At best you are left in a position
of 'after-the fact' responses.
As I think about this most recent and horrific scene in lower
Manhattan, my thoughts begin to wander, they begin to kick-in
something similar to overdrive. Being a free thinker and being
blessed with the power of positive vibes and a childlike spirit,
one would think the energy in my force fields could manage
to reconcile an appropriate punishment for these cowards.
Not so. It seems I get part of the way there and suddenly,
like a boxer shaking off a body blow, reality slowly reappears.
Regardless of how I try to resolve the punishment factor,
the parallel tracks of 'significant' and 'controversial' seem
to collide. For some reason they do not appear correct when
they are on opposite sides of this equation. Here is where
I remind myself that there is a fine line between genius and
success. What I would like to see happen and what common sense
dictates can be done are as different as night and day. I
only need to open my eyes to this fact.
You see it's perfectly alright for each of us, including
our leaders, to have our own idea of where our country should
be heading as a result of the WTC tragedy. But we must protect
ourselves from being drawn into the vortex of a bad plan.
We must protect ourselves from thinking we can be the heros
of our own sagas. We must be willing to be absent for a short
time while we sort it all out. Granted people will notice
the absence but they will understand when we return with a
solid plan. A plan that we intimately embrace as a nation.
A plan that has closure and finality.
The plan is of course, a willing and appropriate use of our
armed forces to conduct retaliatory operations. For now there
will be some unanswered questions. The who, what, where and
why will need to be worked out along with the degree of severity.
The answers to these questions will come in time. We will
realize more about the task in front of us as we uncover the
clues left behind.
As it stands now, it looks like a certainty that Osama Bin-Laden
is a main figure in our latest tragedy. He has been given
a free ride for far too long and we now must deal with him
on an unequivocable basis. OBL won't come to us so we must
go to him. It won't be easy. It is his turf and no one in
the world knows that turf better than him and his band of
murderers. Both Russia and the UK have found this out in the
past. Carpet bombing will probably not do the job. That leaves
us with putting ground troops in Afghanistan to smoke him
out which will surely protract the war and produce an untold
number of casualties.
There is only one alternative to the ground troop approach
so I will go ahead and say it - nuclear weapons. It would
be swift and deadly. There would be no need for an exit strategy
and providing OBL is in Afghanistan, it would give us the
closure that we need. The problem with this plan lies in the
fact that there will be others to deal with. Surely OBL did
not plan, finance and execute this by himself. States were
involved. So too were individuals and organizations involved.
Believing anything else is simply being naive.
When we identify the other murderers, should we again use
the nuclear option? Go down that slippery slope, let the genie
out of the bottle? Should other countries now feel free to
join in with the mass murder with nuclear weapons? Will there
be a way to stop or will we be geting our first glimpse of
the laws of unintended consequences?
Our choices are clear. We take the messy approach of air
and ground troups with high body count or we take the swift
and easy path of nuclear weapons. There's no in-between. Our
commitment was made for us. It was made at the time the orchestra
of terror played the overture. Now we must pray that when
we hear the closing symbols clashing to a crescendo, the performing
orchestra is that of American freedom.
The choices are in the hands of our war planners. For this
I am thankful. It is too tough a decision for me to make.
Soon we will know what they have planned.
On September 14 Hudson sailed past the northern tip of Manhattan
into the Tappan Zee, thinking he had surely found the passage
to the east. It was just days later when the Half Moon entered
the shallow waters of Albany and Hudson finally realized it
was another dead end.
The return journey down the Hudson river was long and depressing.
He again passed the tip of Manhattan. This time looking a
little closer. Trying to imagine what it would look like many
years in the future. One can only suppose that Hudson knew
that he was standing at the doorstep of a great country. He
must have sensed that he was looking at the single spot on
the globe which would become known as the focal point of tolerance
and freedom. This same spot in the future would be chosen
by cowardly terrorists as ground zero for an event so dreadful,
that world leaders would be huddled around trying to make
a choice between which path a country takes to the eve of
Of course, Hudson had no way of knowing this.