Twenty years ago, this morning I was awoken by my little sister banging on my door, crying and shouting for me to turn on the TV.
I turned it on in time to see a plane crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, at 7:03am local time. Our nation was under attack.
My sister and I watched the news for the next hour, as the towers fell and millions of Americans witnessed thousands of our countrymen turn to dust and rubble on live TV. At the same time, reports were coming in about the attack on the Pentagon and the plane crash in Pennsylvania.
I had already finished my stint in the military. I joined the Marine Corps in 1994, spent a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, and by 2001 was out and trying to finish by bachelors at Boise State University.
But twenty years ago, I knew my country needed me for another tour of duty. I re-enlisted, now in the Idaho National Guard, 183rd Aviation Regiment.
I wanted to avenge the 2,977 souls that were murdered that morning in September.
And how did we choose to remember them?
In the days after the attacks Congress passed a resolution conceding unilateral authority to the President of the United States to make war against anyone, at any time, for any cost, and for any length of time.
Our government used that to invade Afghanistan, where I was deployed for eighteen months. Then we invaded Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. And then we invaded or bombed half a dozen other countries that weren’t involved in 9/11 either.
Meanwhile, we stayed in Afghanistan another twenty years—after Al Qaeda was decimated, after Osama bin Laden was dead, and after we had any conceivable interest in remaining.
And at what cost?
What have twenty years of endless war, foreign occupation, and nation-building given you?
I am surrounded by the bodies and headstones of my neighbors, of people who like me put on the uniform but weren’t lucky enough to come home in anything but a flag draped coffin.
Our great-grandchildren will still be paying the interest on the trillions of dollars we borrowed to pay for the invasions that killed these soldiers.
And those are the costs that are easiest to see.
I’d like to read to you a short quote by that great Republican Senator Robert Taft. He said, “If in the great field of foreign policy the president has the arbitrary and unlimited powers he now claims, then there is an end to freedom in the United States not only in the foreign field but in the great realm of domestic activity which necessarily follows any foreign commitments.”
The errors of our foreign policy don’t stay abroad. They blowback home.
When you get hassled and harassed at the airport, that’s a consequence of our wars. When the government listens to your phone calls and monitors your speech, that’s a consequence of our wars. When you go on vacation and foreigners give you dirty looks and disrespect, that’s a consequence of our wars. When your president believes he has the power to make unilateral, dictatorial decisions over you and your family, that’s a consequence of our wars.
Two and a half years ago i founded an organization to fix this, to pull our nation back from the brink. I am one of a super-majority of American veterans who believe we must bring our troops home from these illegal, wasteful, endless wars in the Middle East and Africa.
BringOurTroopsHome.US is a pro-veteran, pro-Constitution group that believes in an America First foreign policy.
I am asking you, with all the urgency I can muster, help us restore the republic that is our birthright as Americans. We are up against the most powerful institution in the world: the Empire centered in Washington DC, the murderess of that very republic.
Go to TenSevenClub.com and sign up for a reoccurring donation. $10 is all it takes, and you’ll be an official member of our supporter’s group. Every sent goes to spreading our message, lobbying legislators in all fifty states, and ensuring that our namesake mission succeeds: that we bring our troops home and we never send them back into combat again unless Congress first follows their constitutional duty to declare war.
On this 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I choose to honor the memory of the fallen by fighting for the republic they lived in, not the empire that replaced it.
This is Sgt. Dan McKnight signing off. God bless, and god speed.