Saturday, September 12, 2009

Let's Roll

I didn't comment on September 11 about the anniversary. I'm not sure I can add anything meaningful. For people who lived in Washington DC at the time it was eerie. We're so used to air traffic overhead. For a few days, the only air traffice overhead was the sound of fighter jets protecting our airspace.

When I was in the Air Force and our conversations were interrupted on base by the sound of the F-16's lifting off we'd pause and count. It wasn't as if we could talk over their roar. We all called it the Sound of Freedom. Sometimes it was a four-ship, sometimes an 8. It was always very cool.

My job was to defend the young men and women who found themselves on the wrong side of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It was a privilege to serve them because although none of them were completely innocent of all charges (none of us usually are), all of them deserved a fair trial. When I was called to defend a case at Bitburg though, it was tougher. The young man was part of a group of jet mechanics who had been importing drugs from Amsterdam, and using them. He was getting high, and then working on jets. My husband was a pilot. See the difficulty?

Yet, our justice system is dedicated to the proposition that everyone deserves a fair trial. So I made sure that he got one too. I tried to get him to plead guilty so he'd get credit on his sentence. He refused. He was more afraid of street justice back home in Detroit (if word got out that he cooperated) than serving time in the federal prison system. He knew the system was fair, and would protect his rights. He knew his 'hood would not.

On 9-11, none of the terrorists on those planes survived. Yet, if any of them had survived, they would have been entitled to defense in the best justice system in the world -- at no cost if they didn't have any money. They tried to destroy something they fundamentally did not understand -- that we choose to live under a government that guarantees us the right to speak, worship, and assemble freely.

That's what I want to remember about 9-11. That no matter how horrible the acts or how tragic the loss of life, it did not change what America stands for.



Quilldancer said...

In Vegas, not even the jet fighters flew. All was quiet from Nellis. Too quiet. Being near the base, we were forever used to the sight and sound of the F14s.

When the first one flew over after several long days of silence, the upper elementary kids were in the cafeteria. I was standing in the salad bar line with a fellow teacher. The whole room went quiet -- amazing in a room filled with several hundred eating children. Every faced turned toward the ceiling. As the sound of the jets faded away, into the silence my teacher friend said, "That's the sound of freedom." A group of 5th grade boys stood up, turned to the stage and started reciting the pledge. Before they were finished most of the other people in the cafeteria joined them, and I was crying.

For a long, long time after that, my eyes still filled with tears when I'd hear a jet fly over.

SouthLakesMom said...

Great story. When they flew here it was patrol b/c of the seat of government being here.

At Nellis you were seeing/hearing F-16's -- the Navy flies F-14's. :-) (Pilot's wife)

What school was it? We used to live in Vegas when the kids were small. We lived in Summerlin but knew people all over the city.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you and the conclusion to this. Well done my friend :)

Glennon said...

beautiful, thank you.