10 years

Ten years is not such a long time. Ten years ago I was serving as a parish pastor in Cincinnati and working as a hospital chaplain part-time at the University of Cincinnati Trauma Center. Ten years ago today I felt a renewed kinship with my fellow sailors as I had served in the United States Naval Reserve until just a few years before. For ten years ago today was the cowardly evil attack by Islamic terrorists on the USS Cole that resulted in 17 deaths, numerous injuries, grieving families and friends and signaled what we now know was the opening salvo in what has been called the Long War and the War on Terror. Ten years ago today Bin Laden followed through on his threats and our lives have not been the same.

I remember. Before 9/11 was the USS Cole. I remain resolved.

Ten years now and counting. I claim only to speak for myself, but I remain resolved. Against evil there can be no quarter given. Against evil their can be no retreat and no surrender for evil is without mercy. Evil knows not one shred of compassion. It knows only desire for domination and destruction. Evil has one goal: to deliver slavery or death. Sad is the necessary day when free men of courage and honor must unsheathe the sword and go to war, but what else can a free society do when to sit idly by is to invite slavery or slaughter.

There is always a cost. A dark, dreadful, painful cost to action that can only be superseded by the cost of inaction.

Today I pray for the families: the parents, the wives and husbands, the children, all family and friends whose lives were torn by the loss of loved ones because evil reached out to destroy. Today I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for those honorable men and women who stand the line against the onslaught of evil knowing their blood may be the next to be shed. Today I pray for victory and for peace -- but real peace, not the peace that might momentarily come from hiding averting one's eyes until it is too late.

Today I remember these words:

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority?
Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good.
But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.
For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.
(Romans 13:3-4)

And so I pray too for our leaders and our forces that we may never forget why we must fight, though necessary it is, we take no pleasure in unsheathing the sword and we are ready to fight and die if necessary not for dominion but for freedom, for the good.