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A wise man once said that the natural state of man is war. Peace, he added, is just a time for preparation.

I don't think anything could have "prepared" us for what happened, though... maybe Armageddon. Yeah. Armageddon might have whipped us into shape.

Nobody saw it coming. I mean, there are spooks and spies and masterminds high up in the hush-hush intelligence bracket, but I doubt even the smartest sleuth out of all of 'em could have seen it the way it played out. It just... happened. It happened, and all we could do was sit there, paralyzed, during the whole ordeal.

Correction: not all of us sat there and gaped like fishes. A few good men and women went to do something about it. They were the bravest of the brave, the cream of the crop, as my grandmother would say. They went into the valley of the shadow without a second thought, doing their duty to protect and preserve their fellow man. They ran headlong into hell like it was just another day on the job. Straight into the jaws of death... knowing they probably wouldn't make it, and not caring.

Nobody could fix the situation. How do you reverse the end of the world? But even though the worst was about to happen, lives could still be saved. While hellfire and brimstone rained down from the sky, angels in uniform—ordinary citizens answering the call of duty—went in on a mission to pull out as many people as they could, or die trying. They put up a fight instead of turning tail. In the midst of all the blood and flames and agony, heroes rose to the occasion.

They never surrendered. Never gave up. Stood their ground until there wasn't any ground to stand on, and it had all come down on top of them.

Before we knew it, we were looking at a body count beyond our darkest imaginings, and staring down an enemy whose capabilities are overshadowed only by their religious fanaticism. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, and we almost didn't want to know. The enemy is alien to us; our ways of life are completely different, our beliefs and philosophies as opposite as day and night. They want us gone. Dead. Poof. Exterminated like the insects we are. "Heretics," they call us. An affront to their fanatical suppositions. Until our culture and way of life is eradicated, they will not stop.

The destruction of that not-so-long-ago day has led us down a path we have come to question. A path of blood, destruction, deceit, wrong moves, and regret. We've had our share of victories, but also defeats. No matter how hard and long we fight, it seems that the enemy will not be shaken. They cling tenaciously to their course, and our casualties are proof of this. We have become disheartened and skeptical. Maybe that's a good thing, and maybe it isn't. Is there a cause? Is there a reason for all this madness... this war? Questions like these ring through doubting hearts and minds. The maimed soldier... the widow... the gold-star mother... the child whose parent came home in a flag-draped casket. The refugees, the survivors, the ones who will be scarred for life. Where is justice in all this, they cry. How will the suffering be justified?

I don't know. I'm just a human being. How can anyone discern what the true meaning is behind all this carnage? We see through a glass darkly... a glass stained with blood and riddled with shrapnel.

I may not know the secret, but I do know a few things. I'm no prophet, and I don't presume to be a philosopher. I'm not even sure I like the way the war's going or how it's being handled. But I know one thing. We have a duty and it is to follow this thing to the end, wherever it may lead. We can't just leave it hanging. There must be a resolution. And that resolution cannot be one of compromise. Our very way of life is at stake. Our culture. Our children and their children after them. We take the easy way out, we cheat not only ourselves, but future generations as well.

The clock is ticking, and our time seems to be wasting away as we fight endlessly to beat back the tide of defeat. Officials squabble and vie for dominance in a game that's more of a popularity contest than an actual campaign. We don't need a homecoming queen or a poster boy. We need a leader. A leader who will understand the reality of war and what it takes to fight... and win. A leader who will take the time to remember... remember the day when evil reared its ugly head and sunk its fangs into our soul, injecting lethal poison that has yet to be cleansed from our system.

So now, as the blasting winds of war erode the solid rock that is our foundation, I ask of you one thing. Just one thing. It's not hard, I promise.

I want you to remember.

I want you to remember that day. A day that, like Pearl Harbor, "shall live in infamy." The day when the world we knew came crashing down around us and shattered our perceptions of all that is good and noble in the world. That's not too hard, is it? Just take some time... pause in your daily routine and think... think about the many lives that were lost, and all that has been done in retribution for those losses. I'm not asking you to depress yourself or dwell on death. No. Just remember. That's all.

Because—like another wise man once said—if we don't remember our history, it will happen again.
This has got to be one of the strangest things I have written. And not because of the subject matter. It started out as a Halo piece from a Marine's point of view, about what happened at Harvest. It was supposed to be a narrative leading up to the events at Reach. Then somehow I went back and edited it and it turned into a September 11th piece. I didn't have to change anything, really, just delete the parts where I mentioned the Covenant by name. Kinda creepy, too.

9/11 is coming up and I'm in one of THOSE moods again... isn't it lovely. And yes, I bawl like a baby every time I watch World Trade Center or actual news footage of 9/11. Or I get mad and have urges to enlist in the Marines NOW. Ugh. Must... be... PATIENT...

Anyways, hope ya'll enjoy. Love it or hate it, I don't care. Oh, and the "wise man" quotes don't belong to me.
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Master-of-the-Boot Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You wrote a very powerful piece but I think that it's wrong to classify the terrorists as alien or unfathomable. As horrible as what they've done is, they're only human.
pHeRaLiUs Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2010
Very nice, very moving. I remember exactly where I was when this happened, and I saw it: The U.S. Navy. Not a day goes by when I don't think about it; even more so now when it seems some are working to dishonor their memories.
AetheriumDreams Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you. ^^
kfirpanther3 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2010
I agree with this piece's last words. If we are to repeat bad things, we are doomed to failure. We should remember 9/11 and its victims. R.I.P. to those who died.
Unoraptormon Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I cried after I finished reading this....
AetheriumDreams Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aw! I sorry! :hug:
Unoraptormon Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:hug: So moving.
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Submitted on
September 8, 2010
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