Reflections on 9/11: Bruce McKenty

As a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient, each year since that tragic day, I have had many opportunities to consider and reflect on the events of September 11, 2001. With the possible exception of a few incidents at the onset of WWII, our homeland has been mercifully spared the physical scars of war. Yes, America’s sons and daughters have been asked to put themselves in harm’s way on many occasions since our Nation’s birth, but always in another land, and usually in an effort to prevent the genocide of another people or ethnic group–not to impose our rule or way of life on others.

But, the attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers, the Pentagon, and the intended attack on the U.S. Capitol building on September 11, 2001, brought the war against international terrorism to our own shores. For those cowards who perpetrated this vile act, it was a miscalculated and grave mistake! Rather than achieving their objective to coerce or demoralize our nation, or persuade the people to turn against the government’s conduct of the war on terrorism, their cowardly attack on defenseless civilian men, women and children had the exact opposite effect–for the first time since WWII, our nation was united against a common but hidden enemy.
Another effect these cowards could never have calculated was that, for the first time since the Vietnam War, our nation was able to separate the war from the warrior, and has coalesced America’s unwavering support for our young servicemen and women who are fighting to protect the very freedoms we all enjoy. In fact, many of these young military personnel are the sons and daughters of Vietnam veterans, and we are committed to ensuring that they receive the support and encouragement of a grateful nation. In my position as National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, I come into contact daily, not only with those combat wounded veterans of earlier conflicts, but also with the brave young wounded warriors who have been physically and emotionally scarred while serving their country in Iraq or Afghanistan. I visit with them at Walter Reed, Bethesda, and at the VA Polytrauma Centers. I am constantly amazed at their spirit, resilience, and commitment, despite their injuries, to the ideals that make our nation unique and worth fighting for. God Bless America.
Bruce McKenty, National Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart