I was not in the continental limits of the United States for the ceremonial remembrances of 9/11.
Instead, I was embarked aboard Holland America’s ms Rotterdam, cruising the North and Baltic Seas and visiting the ports of Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.
I know, it was a trying and difficult task, but someone had to do it.
From what I could view over the limited television menu available and glean from excerpts in the ship’s library from The New York Times and the Internet, the memorials, for the most part, appeared to be tastefully and professionally done and attended by sober-minded and attentive crowds.
To be sure, there were the usual detractors with their claims that the attention devoted was far out of proportion or an unnecessary glorification of that attack.
I don't happen to be of that opinion, inasmuch as the majority of Americans fall into two categories in their remembrance of the reprehensible and cowardly attack, claiming the lives of more than 3,000 innocent victims.
The first and most affected category comprises of those who were either on the scene and viewed the carnage or those who lost loved ones to the suicidal maniacs piloting the aircraft.
The rest of us were and continue to be saddened and enraged that a nameless and faceless enemy would launch an unprovoked attack against our sovereign nation.
Among the more encouraging aspects of the memorial effort was the paucity in attendance, as well as in letters, blogs and demonstrations, of the certifiable “moon bat” fringe of deniers and “truthers.”
These are the malcontents who, presumably, crawl out of sewers and from under rocks to accuse the government of covering up its nefarious part in organizing and carrying out the attack in order to provide an excuse to go to war for oil. Their absence was most welcome.
The most reprehensible journalistic malfeasance was performed by The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in his Sept. 11, 2010 piece entitled “The Years of Shame.”
He wrote: "The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror."
He closed by accusing the administration of using the attack to justify waging an unrelated war — sadly, some people cannot climb out of the gutter.
In reporting and remembering 9/11, a number of columnists and reporters continue to reiterate their claims that “overreaction” to the attack created a "climate of fear" among the people.
To prove this concept, they continually decry the passage of the Patriot Act and warrantless wiretaps as unnecessary and illegal assaults on our civil liberties.
Other contributions to fear-mongering include the assertions that preventive detention of suspects and the internment of prisoners who were not sentenced at Guantanamo further incite our enemies to commit violence.
I find this so called “climate of fear” infecting the United States to be overstated to the point of being laughable.
While it should be obvious that the Sept. 11, 2001 strikes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon exposed a heretofore thought improbable vulnerability, I do not know nor have I met anyone who has permitted that possibility to force a change in lifestyle.
For those too young to remember, I offer the 1950s perceived threat of nuclear attack by Russia as a comparison. During those early Cold War years, “duck and cover” drills were taught in the schools. As a civil defense response, students would drop and crawl to covered positions.
Additionally, many families built elaborate bomb shelters and stocked them with food, water, bedding and clothing in preparation for an impending atomic bomb drop.
I don't know nor have I heard of anyone who has gone to those lengths for self protection in recent years.
The notion that the Patriot Act and warrantless wiretapping of certain overseas communications has compromised civil liberties is largely limited to those who fail to understand the common-sense application of the Constitution or to those who don aluminum foil headwear and see black helicopters overhead.
I have never felt threatened by the provisions of the Patriot Act and if one of my neighbors/countrymen is communicating with a terrorist state, I want my president or his designated representative to be aware of it.
There will always be differences of opinion as to the best option for the aftermath of 9/11.
Nevertheless, it is a matter of record that beginning with the bombing of the Marine and Navy barracks in Lebanon, and continuing with the first attempt at the Twin Towers, the USS Cole and attacks on our embassies, there was no retaliation against the pipsqueak perpetrators until President Bush, with the support of Congress, struck back after 9/11.
It is also a matter of record that since we retaliated with war on the terrorists, supplementing our national security and defense with the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, detention for probable cause of suspects and imprisoning unlawful combatants at Guantanamo, we have not been attacked.
These safeguards, initiated by former President Bush, have been continued by President Obama — it is hardly a coincidence that we have enjoyed 10 years free of terrorist attack.
J. Karl Miller of Columbia retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.