Originally Published: September 13, 2005 5 a.m.
Over the past weekend, the nation marked the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a third hijacked airliner that crashed in rural Pennsylvania when passengers fought back.
The nation paid due homage to all of the people who died and suffered. It honored the innocent people who were just going to work or planning a routine flight, the brave police officers, firefighters and paramedics who perished trying to save people, and the passengers who forced one plane to crash in Pennsylvania rather than into another icon of American achievement.
We must never forget those victims and their sacrifices. What's even more important, we mustn't forget the lesson it taught us. Few of us would have imagined that anyone could hate us as a nation enough to give up their own lives to kill us by the thousands.
Now we know. We also need to realize that those who hate us and would kill us have a far deeper sense of resolve and a much longer-term timetable than American culture where most of us have the attention spans of flashbulbs.
Our attackers aren't getting even with us just for supporting Israel or how they think we are debauching their cultures with our music, promiscuity and excesses. They see themselves as still paying us back for the Crusades.
And we must understand we can't forget, because they won't ever. We are in a war. We have no idea when it will end. But our enemies merely are biding their time until in our typically American way, we turn our attention to something else.