By JOSEPH MARTIN
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Members of the American Legion Steve Youngdeer Post 143 paid tribute to the victims of Sept. 11 and to current emergency service workers and veterans on the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks during an event held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2018. It was a cloudless day in New York, on Sept. 11, 2001, when members of al-Qaida flew hijacked jetliners into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. Another hijacked plane was flown into the Pentagon in Washington, and a fourth crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa., intended to hit the White House.
Post 143 Commander Lew Harding recalled the events of that day as they unfolded. “They lost their lives on a day when all they did was come to work to do what they normally did. As a nation, we mourned a terrible loss. But, we are also here to honor and remember those who were so brave.”
Al-Qaida leader at the time Osama bin Laden called for the killing of Americans for the country’s support of Israel, troop presence in Saudi Arabia and what he claimed was support for oppression of Muslims around the globe. Al-Qaida follows a belief that a Christian-Jewish alliance seeks to destroy Islam, and it often carries out terroristic acts by means of suicide bombings. Prior to Sept. 11, the organization was responsible for bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993, U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and U.S.S. Cole in 2000.
Harding said, “There’s no compromise with an ideology like this. We can only defeat it.”
The attacks killed 2,977 people, including eight children, along with the 19 hijackers on a mass murder-suicide mission. They took the lives of then-Tribal Council Chairman Albert Crowe’s brother-in-law Michael Taddonio, who was in the south tower, and Cherokee Nation member Brian Moss, a sailor in the U.S. Navy who was in the Pentagon. Gregory Taylor, a sergeant in the Army at the time, was also in the Pentagon that day, but he was unharmed.
Since the attacks of that day, the U.S. has engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was being protected by the Taliban government, and Iraq, whose involvement in those attacks was never proven, despite then leader Saddam Hussein’s praise of the attacks. The Taliban fell from power. Bin Laden was gunned down by Navy SEALs at his hideout in Pakistan, and Hussein was executed by Iraq’s new government after he fell from power. The U.S. still maintains military operations in both countries. While al-Qaida has been weakened, it’s still a threat, and others, mainly the Islamic State (ISIS) have emerged and pose threats to security.
Harding said we must remember those who sacrificed and those who were killed. Remember the feelings of helplessness, terror and remember the burn. “Living without freedom is not living at all. Let us also teach our children the lessons learned.”
The attacks killed 343 New York Fire Department firefighters, 37 officers with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 23 New York Police Department officers, eight EMTs and one patrol with the New York Fire Patrol. American Legion Post 143 Service Officer Warren DuPree paid tribute to veterans and emergency service workers.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed spoke of the impact of that day, which ranks alongside the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy and 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. “If you were alive to remember those days, you remember exactly what you were doing. You remember exactly the emotion that came over you. There was a collective suffering of our nation.”
He remembered the sense of unity that resulted from the shared suffering of this nation. “It didn’t matter if you were black, if you were white, if you were native, if you were Christian, if you were Jew, it didn’t matter. You were American.”
Chief Sneed lamented the political divisions in America today. “I want to encourage and challenge everyone today to remember that we’re human beings first, created in the image of God.” He hoped it wouldn’t take another tragedy to unite the country.