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Fourteen years ago today I was riding my motorcycle to work, a little late but almost there. My boss, Governor Rick Perry, called me along the way, and I had to pull over to get the phone out, take off my helmet, and answer him. He asked me if I still had family in New York (I didn’t) and if I had seen the news (I hadn’t). He told me to get to the office as fast as I could . . .
I arrived to everyone standing in one room staring at the TV, and I walked in almost exactly as the second plane hit the South Tower. A short time later we learned of the plane hitting the Pentagon. One of the people I occasionally worked with, an incredibly intelligent woman, Barbara Olson, died on that flight.
Over the course of that day, the nature of those attacks became evident, and over the next days I would hear so many people talk about what “we” were going to do.

Friends, co-workers, everyone, were talking about how “we” were going to get the people who did this. “We” were going to go over there and kick the hell out of them. “We” were going to make them pay. “We” were going to keep our nation, and her people, safe.I came to realize that everyone I was talking to didn’t think “we” meant the same thing I thought it did. Those people meant “we” in the same sense they talked about “we” on the football field. They knew damn well they weren’t playing in that game, and had no intention of ever doing so.

To me, “we” meant you and me. Very shortly later I got that it was really just me. So I signed up, as an enlisted man, and became a medic. No one, and I mean not one of the people I worked with — family, friends — no one did the same. Those people actually meant “they” every time they said “we”.

And that’s the crux of the issue before us today in regards to our daily carry of firearms. Around our nation, far too many people attempt to pass on their duty to protect themselves and the others they are responsible for. They depend on us to protect them, all the while saying “we” are safe. No folks, I am safe. I make myself safe, and I’ll do my best to make you safe too. But if you aren’t taking responsibility for your own safety, if you walked out of the house today unready, there’s no “we” to it.

For those of you that did, who on this day woke up, tooled up, and went about your life, thank you for standing with me. I am proud of our nation, and proud of us.

69 Responses to 9/11: The Importance of Being Armed

  1. You have a lot more confidence in the federal government’s ability to conceive an implement rational and effective foreign/military policy than I do.

    • Immigration policy put in place by both R’s and D’s who have armed guards at work and live in patrolled sub-divisions. They made their donors happy with a cheap supply of labor (R’s) and voters(D’s).

      The rest of us have to deal with the drunk driving illegal Mexican rapists and gangmembers.

  2. I was in the middle of the woods/swamp on Camp Lejeune. Although we’d noticed and unusual number of hornets and cobras in the air, due to a broken radio we didn’t find out about what had happened until the afternoon of the 12th.

  3. It’s not hard to understand that most times, we means you, your self and I; that you must be your own trinity.

    As a family with deep military roots, every one of our adult’s carries, or serves in one way or another, and teaches our young at least basic ‘street smart’ skills.

    It’s not a burden but a definite realization that — the price of freedom is eternal vigilance!

    • Exactly – it is like when Shannon says “we” must reject guns around our children, all the while knowing “we” doesn’t include her precious (and more important, to her at least) own when Gloomy’s bald-headed armed guards are watching over them.\

      Marinate on that for a while Moms. . . .

  4. Bang on. Thank you for that.

    That “we”, meaning “you” or “they” thing is the pivot for great piles of mischief. Use that to tease apart rhetoric all the time. Related to the topic of this site, “we” shouldn’t have guns, means “they”, especially “you”, shouldn’t have guns, while “my” bodyguards still have them. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Mayor.)

    I love asking: “Who’s ‘we’?” in the midst of various impassioned soliloquies.

    Indeed, here’s a story in contrast … In the bleeding heart of one of “our” progressive cities, among gaggles of the self-righteously concerned (and BTW one of the more systematically rapacious large tech organizations of recent years) a year after the towers came down a “colleague” asked: “What do you think about all this?”

    I replied that I was concerned, still. I replied that since he asked, I thought the self-involved “moment of silence” directed over the office speakers by the company’s Dear Leader, was really empty symbolism. Self-promotion write large. Look at us being silent in line for our latte’s – aren’t we … something.

    This isn’t even activism, trying to stop a an invasion, (The one which now – in hindsight so many folk are against after, for example they voted for it.) This is wallowing in “gosh this is hard.” I may have said something like that at the time. Also that the case for invasion was thin, while the target had been violating their cease fire terms, with active suppression operations over their territory to keep that in check – sort of – since the prior ground war ended.

    Back about the falling towers, I replied that for myself, it was still true that the unfolding events might require me to kill or die at a moment’s notice … in a way, and regarding an issue that hadn’t been nearly so front of mind for me a year before. I replied that I didn’t have to think about signing up to go somewhere, with the risk of getting killed, and the risk of getting mis-used, because nobody would have my broken bod in their army.

    This was apparently not the right answer. It seems even *recognizing* the existence of a profound choice isn’t OK.

    Thank you, Mr. Taylor for your story. Thank you for demonstrating that as citizens of a republic, choices like these are on us. (The whole speech “Citizenship in a Republic” is a wonderful read, at least as important as the often quoted extract, “The Man in the Arena.” Recommended.)

    • You are welcome, and if you walked out of the house today, ready to protect yourself and those around you, then I thank you for your service as well.

  5. I did my part: I was armed when I went out for business today. Had a violent attacker come after me or a person next to me, that violent attacker would have faced armed resistance. And, hopefully, I would have prevailed.

  6. Got up. Did the morning routine. Strapped on the EDC of the day and took the wife and my 15 yo daughter to the range AT THEIR request.

    Never forget and move on appropriately.

  7. Well said, JWT. And from my perspective, the most annoying, self-serving and utterly despicable use of the world “we” comes from the politicians who proclaim that “we” will rain down hell on our enemies as “they” sit safely at home while you and people like you go into harm’s way.

    Here’s an idea. The next time a politician explains how “we” are going to save the world from bad people, slap a uniform on that bastard and ship him off to get shot at wherever the danger might be.

    • So many people in American popular culture admire the Spartans. How many of them know that all of the Spartan politicians were first infantrymen? How many know that Leonidas, King Leonidas, probably in his 60’s, most likely fought at the absolute tip of the phalanx, in it’s most vulnerable position, as was custom?
      If that was the standard, how different, and few, wars would be indeed.

      • You are correct. There wouldn’t be any wars because most of our politicians are spineless. Have you ever read “War Is A Racket” by Gen. Smedley Butler? It is an eye opener as to what wars are really about.

    • Until recently that has generally been a red herring at least since the Spanish- American War. Many members of Congress and the President were Civil War or Indian War Veterans. The Congress elected in 1940 had many WWI Veterans and the Congress at the time of Korea and Vietnam was filled with WWII veterans. With the exception of Woodrow Wilson every President who began a war had served in the Military.

      • President Clinton who wrote a letter stating that he loathed the military. He never served in the military. Clinton started an illegal undeclared war on Serbia. Thousands of people died. America soldiers still occupy that country.

        President Obama never served in the military. He started an illegal and undeclared war on Lybia. Thousands of American military personnel were used to kick the leader out of power. Obama created a power vacuum that has caused an immagration crisis in Europe, and put terrorists in power there.

        Democrat presidents who never served in the military are quite capable in fvcking up the world as anyone else.

  8. At that point in time I was 14 years old, and had literally just gone back to school.

    This was right after my East Coast trip in 2011 that my Grandparents had paid for, as a gift for doing so well in school. They were supposed to go themselves, as they’ve never seen the East coast, but we were never really that fortunate of a family.. As a whole, we did alright. As it is, they instead decided that I should go on my own to experience it. I got to see the entire east coast, all the historical landmarks and explore the entire history of the original colonies in the United States.

    The end of the trip ended with a nice, awesome ride to the very top of the World Trade Center, up all the elevators and through all the corridors. Little did I know that me, there at the World Trade Center in August, 2001, would be one of the last people to stand on top of that building.

    In just under a month, my Art History teacher (1st period at the time.. I was a freshman in High School) and announced on September 11th, that the World Trade Center had just been hit by an airplane, and switched on the news. I was absolutely stunned at the sight. I had literally JUST seen that building, and was JUST there, looking out over all of the other buildings.

    It was a bit unnerving, to say the least.. But I thought, accidents happen. It was just an accident and I feel bad for all the people effected for it.

    When the 2nd plane hit, I was heartbroken at the time. I started to cry, because I realized what it was, even at that age. It felt stupid and dumb at the time.. I was all about being macho and tough and rough when I was that age, but it was uncontrollable. At that time it was like having a memory robbed from me, one that I can never share, and it haunts me to this day knowing that it is gone.

    Some people lost a lot more than I did on 9/11/2001, but I still lost a large part of my childhood that I will never be able to share with any of my family members, who were gave up their chance to see it themselves. I paid for them to fly to the East Coast later in life, once I became successful, but it will never be the same to them, or my sister, or my mom or anybody.

    Sad day. I’ll never forget the day that history was made.

  9. A much greater percentage of the US population was lost on Sept 11 1777 and they faced death willingly. Maybe they shouldn’t be forgotten.

  10. The crux of this article is quite profound. The abdication of responsibility across all aspects of life fuels the frequency and the degree of the abuse of power. And it is not just on a personal basis. Congress abdicated the responsibility for our monetary policy to a privately owned central bank deceptively labeled The Federal Reserve Bank which resulted in a 90%+ decrease in purchasing power over the last century. And it is the same in education, employment, and as well as personal self defense.

    • I am not one of those people who uses the phrase “when a dollar was worth a dollar.” I use the phrase “when a dollar was worth a dime” because the dollar has fallen that far now.

  11. Eight years out of the military and for an unknown reason I chose to drive instead of fly. At a hotel in Medford OR, was packing up for the sales meetings, turn and saw the second plane hit on the TV. That moment, former military and private pilot, knew America was under attack.

    Mr. Taylor is spot on…there is no we, only I in the defense of a nation or one self. Half way through my CCW and when approved, I will carry arms.

  12. Thank you for your service, Mr. Taylor.
    I pray that “we,” as a nation, can truly be grateful to those who volunteer to place themselves between “us” and evil.

  13. True. I carry to protect my family and myself. That’s it.

    If in the process of ever having to protect them, I happen to also protect “you”, well that’s a happy bonus.

    Otherwise you should have brought your own gun.

  14. You done good, John. We, meaning everyone who is not Muslim, have to understand that 9/11 was an act of war committed by a thousand year old evil which thinks that killing us one and all is an act of holy cleansing. There are no “moderate” Muslims because to be moderate means that you aren’t really Muslim. What we are faced with is a conflict that will make the 100 Years War look like a walk in the park. 9/11 happened because traditional Muslim values are in violent conflict with the modern world. The conflict will end when modernity forces Islam to undergo a reformation which will change the very core of the religion. That will happen because modernity always wins. Always. And when that happens Islam will not be the religion it is today.

    • Mr. Hall, myself, like many of the Americans I served with, fought along side many Muslims. Some of them are my brothers in arms, and some have been injured and died for the safety of me and my team. They knew themselves as Muslims, and believed there was no other God than Allah and that Mohammed was his prophet. Those men fought for freedom, and understood the value of it in ways very few Americans ever will. They fought what they called “the true jihad”.
      I was very open about my Christian faith (if you can call someone who doesn’t follow the halakha a Christian), and those Muslim men were very respectful of me for that. They considered the atheists in our group as “childish”, but showed a great deal of reverence to me for reading the bible and praying over their dead.

      • Seems like, even by Jewish standards, you would not (and should not) follow the entire halakha, only the Noahide laws: no murder, no theft, no sexual immorality, no eating flesh that was cut from a still-living animal, no idols, no blaspheming against God, and ‘establish’ a society with a legal system that attempts to be just (which I think really comes down to resisting injustice). Pretty easy to keep to all of that.

        • I know a few Jews who do not consider me a Christian because I do not follow the same dietary restrictions as Christ did, nor do I follow the festivals and the rest of the law. They point out that I may be following Paul’s example, but not Christ’s nor the disciples’.

      • “And when that happens Islam will not be the religion it is today.”

        Change does not happen all at once. My point is that it is entirely possible, in fact inevitable, for Muslims to embrace modernity. That is what I suspect the people you fought alongside with have done. It is a visceral fear of that kind of change that drives the Jihadi fundamentalist radicals. I submit that the Muslims you were dealing with would be regarded as apostates and pariahs by their more traditionally minded brothers. Modern Muslims have no trouble with religious secularism. For fundamentalists, secularism cannot be tolerated.

        It is exactly the kind of change you describe that the fundamentalists most fear.

        • My point is that it is entirely possible, in fact inevitable, for Muslims to embrace modernity

          Parroting your leftist professor I assume?

          If you’re suggesting that they will embrace modernity after we drive them into submission by nukes then I’d agree.

          If not then I’m much more confident that tens of millions will die before they embrace modernity.

    • I do not remember his name but there was a U S park ranger on one of those flights. All rangers are armed. They are the police force in national parks. It was US park rules that disarmed him. He could not carry his weapon or travel with it while off duty. Other off duty police officers fly with their guns all the time with no problems.

    • Still waiting for you to regale us with your version of the “truth.”

      Also, still waiting for the answers to these questions from last year:

      Who is behind this vast conspiracy? Is every reporting outlet that has conducted tests to disprove truther claims in on the conspiracy? Are the fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, and cousins that combed ground zero looking for the remains of their dead loved ones in on the conspiracy? How can the perpetrator(s) of this apparent “easy to see with the right facts” conspiracy remain hidden in the day in age of Wikileaks? How do truthers make extraordinary claims without providing extraordinary evidence (while simultaneously discounting simple explanations to the aforementioned extraordinary claims)? Where are the planes that were hijacked and apparently not used? Where are the passengers? How do truthers prop up the erroneous BBC report and, at the same time, discount the erroneous reports from CNN and Fox that claimed (paraphrased) ‘WTC 7 either had collapsed or will collapse’ that was reported at the same time as the BBC? Etc, etc etc…

      Try not to deflect or project too much this time around.

  15. Whatever you might think about Michael Moore, at least he pointed out in his 9/11 documentary how few elected officials had children enlisted while voting to go to war (I think it was 1 or 2?).

    • Actually that whole segment of his movie was full of disinformation. He specifically said “enlisted” and didn’t count anyone who was an officer. At the time of the movie there were actually 6 children of members of congress serving in the military and 2 deployed to Iraq. That puts the percentage of their children who were in the military above the national average at that time.

  16. I remember exactly where I was when the Twin Towers came down; out in the field, on exercises, practicing war. I entered the HQ building right after the first tower was hit and was told to go into the room where there was a TV that was kept on to monitor the news. People were talking about what we were witnessing and joking that somehow this was put together just for us and our exercise. But it did not take long until we realized this was actually happening; the United States of America was under attack. Then the second tower was hit, then they started crumbling. More reality as we found out about the Pentagon and a flight that crashed into an obscure field somewhere. As leadership confirmed what we were seeing was actual they pulled together our security team and the senior enlisted, and made sure we were all armed. Next we extended our perimeter, put stockades, or whatever we could find, in place to mark the perimeter, and hunkered down. “WE” were definitely ready for a fight.

    Jon Wayne (whatta name, you gotta grin), thanks for becoming part of “WE”. And to any of you reading this post and comments that joined “WE”, at anytime before or after 9/11, thanks. You’re right; to many people “WE” really means that guy or that girl. “WE” really means “THEY”. They will go and do it. But this much I will say; During the past 20 years, that’s right, 20 years since the current wars kicked off with Desert Shield, this country has shown more support and patriotism toward the military than since WWII.

    As for today, in my post military retired status, yes, I still carry a weapon. But not every day. See, I work on a military installation and only current security forces are allowed to have weapons on a base. So, regardless of my status while on active duty (full weapons qual for my entire 23 year career), and regardless of my current status (carry permit issued by the state I live and work in), I am prohibited from bringing a weapon on base. Of course, that has not stopped those who have brought a weapon onto a base and proceeded to shoot others on the base over the last couple of years. And since the security forces cannot be everywhere they are usually focusing on the gates and the main roads and populace areas. Meaning, in the less active parts of the base where less people are milling about an active shooter has an ample amount of time to wreak havoc and take out multiple persons, as has happened. You know, even though I have a current carry permit, I would be more than willing to take some type of qual course for the base so I could carry on base. Make it as rigorous as they want. Okay, I’ve beat that dead horse to a pulp. Point is, even a place you think should be the most secure isn’t. No place is. SO yes Jon Wayne, and everyone else here, “WE” all need to step up and take responsibility. And the antis…heck, I don’t know. I’m so frustrated with those imbéciles. They really think we would all be safer by taking the guns away. Yeah, because it has worked so well every where else in the world where the law abiding citizen has had to give their guns up.

  17. Where was I? In the New Foresman Conference Room. It is on the E-Ring on the Mezzanine level. That is about as far away from the point of impact you cold be and still be said to be in the building. It could have been worse for me because they wanted to hit that part of the building That is where the SECDEF and the Chairman have their offices but they couldn’t make the turn so they went in where the helos landed.

    When people ask me if I ever expect to use a gun in self defense I tell them no, but then again I never expected someone to fly an airplane into my place of work either.

  18. A bunch of Saudis trained in Afghanistan and Florida attacked the WTC, and so logically the Bush Administration (with the approval of ammosexuals and knuckle-dragging Republicans everywhere) invade and attack Iraq. Over WOMD that didn’t exist. In what was supposed to be an “easy” occupation of a Middle Eastern nation.

    “Heck of a job Brownie!” Yeah, that was another and separate episode that you numb nuts got the nation into.

    Now of course it’s all the fault of the black guy in office. The one that every ammosexual criticizes by starting out saying “I ain’t no racist, but …” and then you go into some diatribe about black people, or black culture.

    Clearly, the ammosexuals and super patriots are what is wrong with this nation.

    Thank God most of you are now classified as domestic terrorists and are being increasingly marginalized. It’s your destiny.

  19. I was in 3rd grade, upon hearing about it I just wanted to get back to whatever school stuff I was doing, later that day I found out why it was such a big deal……

  20. Service to your country can mean different things. I went military. But I’ve known others that chose different paths and I respect their service as well.

  21. Gee…everyone else is a high speed low drag operator and I was working in an office as a Foundry Engineer with the Head of Sales by me when I heard the news on the radio. I really thought we got off with light casualties compared to how many I first thought were dead. I suppose Dad had prepared me to brace for very high casualties from his conversations of destroyed cities that he saw in WWII.

  22. John, after 911 most folks did what the President asked them to do, they went about their normal lives. They were told that “we” (the government) would handle it. I’ve always thought this was a fundamental error which was grounded in the mistaken belief that a war on terror, like our failed war on drugs and poverty, could be fought and won in any meaningful way. Enemies and objectives have to be concrete in order to be effectively targeted and destroyed. Destroying an ideology is far more difficult, and cannot be achieved by bombs and bullets alone, especially when political leadership falters and ultimately fails, as it now has. For those of us who did serve or currently serve, at least there is comfort in the knowledge of being among the ranks of “WE few, WE happy few, WE band of brothers”.

  23. I was in my third year of college when 9/11 happened. I had just arrived on campus when my friend Leslie found me to ask if I had seen what happened. She took me to the student commons where the news was on. I saw the second plane hit on live television and instantly new that our world had just changed. I went on to my psychology course, where the professor was unaware of what was going on. We told her to turn the tv on, and when she saw the news she canceled classes for the day. I ended up meeting my Mom at church later that day. I finished that semester at school, took an Associates degree, and left for Fort Leonard Wood, MO to attend Army basic training. During basic training they asked if any of us felt like we were victims of terrorism. A few hands went up, mainly troops from around the New York area. Then they played us a video showing the victims of that day falling from the towers, having jumped to escape the flames. After the video they asked the question again. This time every hand went up. I have not forgotten.

  24. Had I been of age, I would have willingly enlisted. Unfortunately, at the time I was only 14. By the time I was old enough I had dropped out of high school and had major surgery.

    However I now tool up every day, just in case the day comes that I am needed to defend innocent life or myself.

    I have always enjoyed your articles related to your service history. Thank you for your service, and thank you for sharing with us.

  25. If I knew that we going to launch a military-lawyer driven war where we discard our technological and military advantages and devolve back to kicking in mud hut doors I would have never supported any action in the ME. The life of one of our soldiers is not worth a thousand of Islamist collateral damage. I don’t mind our ground troops going in after to see if anybody needs finishing off after the 2K pounders did their job.

    We ground the Japan and Germany citizens into dust to the point where they were malleable once we marched in. The Islamists only understand and respect brute force.

  26. Well, now, for each “gun safety” proposal I have two really good questions:

    – Why do you want to disarm these people? These people who have posted here, about the responsibility to protect themselves and theirs? These people who saw planes flown into towers as a call to personal responsibility? Why do you want to disarm them?

    – Explain how you proposal — for unspecified “background checks”; for “may issue” without defining who gets to decided, and how; for waiting periods, who knows how long, and whether someone is under threat right now; for this weapon or that based on whether it has a folding thing that goes up vs. who wields it, folding thing or no … explain how your proposal keeps guns away from whack-jobs and stone cold killers at the moment of whack-jobbery or assassination, and not these people.

    I’ll wait.

  27. I lived in Arlington, VA just on the North side of I-66; this is the highway that the plane followed towards downtown DC that morning and eventually plowed into the side of the Pentagon just minutes after passing over our heads. My neighbor down the street – an elderly gentleman whom everyone distanced themselves from because his house was an unkempt eyesore – showed up at my door at about 9 AM with news of the first attack in NYC. I was his only friend locally. He had heard it on the radio and wanted to watch it on my TV. We then watched in horror after the networks replayed the events repeatedly and we were quickly overcome with grief.

    I grabbed a six-pack from the fridge and we sat out on the back porch drinking our breakfast in silence at first, then exploding with speculative, conjectural theories. Then a big airliner flying way too low and very irregularly passed literally over our heads. Having worked as a contractor for the FAA and an amateur pilot, I was very familiar with air traffic control and flight rules. “That can’t be good” I said, as the plane disappeared from the Eastern horizon, followed by a plume of thick, black smoke. Within minutes, sirens were going off everywhere, but not from “air raid” sirens – this was the sound of every fire station and vehicle in Northern Virginia simultaneously converging on the disaster unfolding at the Pentagon, just 2 minutes away on I-66.

    After the shock and horror, then the real terror began, all the way at the top of our government. We all know the story. The world will never be the same. How quickly the sheep have forgotten the risks we face daily and accepted the lies of these fascist regimes running the world into oblivion.

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