Four years ago Sunday, our nation faced a challenge like it had never faced before. Sept. 11 changed the collective attitude of our citizens toward foreign countries forever. President George W. Bush, then only in office a short time, was able to show the United States and the world just how strong of a leader he could be.
Bush was shined while he led the country with bold statements like: “we’re gonna get ’em,” “dead or alive” and “justice will be done.” U.S. citizens ate it up. Task forces and committees scurried about, changing the way we get on airplanes, tightening security measures across the board and creating entirely new Cabinet departments dedicated to securing our homeland.
While Sept. 11 would have been a challenge for any U.S. president, it was not difficult for Bush to look strong and presidential. Granted, Americans needed it at the time. The terrorists had shaken our souls, and we wanted revenge. But four years later, have we gotten revenge? Has justice been done? Bush’s leadership deteriorated to wild goose chases through various Middle Eastern countries and eventually an assault on a country that, while in need of an overhaul, had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Bush’s cowboy approach to “fixing” Iraq is possibly the biggest tragedy to follow the twin towers. Maintaining his bold “leadership” going in, he is now left with no exit strategy and far too many dead U.S. soldiers. The administration has messily tried to cover its tracks after a series of bungled investigations – can anyone say “weapons of mass destruction”?
Our country has struggled to recover during the four years following that day of infamy. Just as powerful as the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, every American can remember where he or she was when the planes hit. New York and Washington, D.C., have done a remarkable job of commemorating the victims while moving on. Leadership has cropped up from unexpected places and will continue to do so.
The Bush administration pulled our country together with admirable leadership when this tragedy happened. But in the four years since, Americans have not been afforded the same leadership. It is time we demand it.