What does terrorism mean to you, your children, your friends, and your family? It’s been twenty-one years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, also known as the World Trade Center, near Battery Park in New York City. Many of us watched in awe as the rubble was slowly removed and rebuilding began. I recall standing at the blockage in front of the towers a short time after 9/11 and witnessing the eerie cross-like structure now known as the Ground Zero Cross, of the building’s bones that were left behind. To many Christians, that was a loud symbol of hope.
We, as a country, have come far during those decades. Where does the U.S. now stand on terrorism? What has changed to stop the threats from becoming a reality? We cannot read the news without our eyes lingering on the massive amount of articles speaking of terrorism in our neighboring countries, but what about the U.S.?
What is Terrorism?
As defined by FEMA:
Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to:
• Create fear among the public.FEMA.gov
• Try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism.
• Get immediate publicity for their causes.
The term is a little odd because we are all aware of terrorism, but what does it actually mean to us as United States citizens? We are here at yet another historic point in time where the definition of terrorism has become broader and more inclusive. Our biggest threat of terrorism is found within the U.S. We have become more of a problem to Americans than other countries.
It mystifies me how we can continue to hold that flag up proudly and boldly force other nationalities and religions to say our Pledge of Allegiance simply because they are in our country. At the same time, we cannot accept other cultures or really anything that is different than ourselves. We flat-out refuse to respect other nations. We seem to be so busy fighting each other that the biggest terrorist threats to the U.S.A. are coming from within our own walls.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established in 2002 after the wake of the September 11th attacks with the core responsibility to keep our nation safe. Over the past 19 years, DHS has evolved into the third largest Cabinet agency with over 250,000 dedicated professionals carrying out our mission through more than twenty component agencies. What does Homeland Security protect us against? Below is a list of what they do to keep our country and its people safe:
- Cyber Security threats – hackers stealing our identity, getting into banking or government systems.
- Secure and modernize our borders – we really need to work on this one. No child should ever be taken from their family just because their family was seeking a safer and more prosperous life.
- Build and maintain an orderly and fair immigration system – again, needs work.
- Combat all forms of terrorism and targeted violence – domestic and international information sharing, empowering communities, strengthening screening and vetting, and addressing new and emerging threats such as unmanned aerial vehicles. This is good but what about the terrorists attacking our children while they are in school?
- Aid the nation in preparedness and clean up from natural disasters and climate change events – you can probably remember the absolutely horrifying mess Hurricane Katrina was for New Orleans and its surrounding areas, but do you remember how severely FEMA failed those victims?
- Combat human trafficking, labor exploitation, and child exploitation – Using resources and personnel to identify and protect victims, bring perpetrators to justice, and prevent entry into the U.S. of products made with forced labor. This is a massive and urgent issue that isn’t just tied to our country. Children are being stolen every day from average places, like the grocery store or Walmart. We need to focus on keeping our children safe.
What can you do?
If you find yourself in the unfortunate and threatened area of a terrorist event, you would need to rely on police, fire, and other officials for instructions. However, you can prepare in much the same way you would prepare for other crisis events. Also, emergency crews are human and cannot do everything for everyone. It is important for you to be able to, foremost, rely on yourself and help others while the emergency team focuses on their efforts to stop the situation from becoming worse.
The following are general guidelines everyone needs to follow:
• Always be aware of your surroundings, and take note of anything that is new or doesn’t belong.
• Get out of there if you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.
• Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended. Do not accept food, drink, housing, travel accommodations, drugs, medications, or anything that could bring you or a loved one harm from a foreign stranger. Just remember “stranger danger” from when you were a kid. I hate to say it, but your best bet is to not trust anyone you do not personally know well.
• Learn where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Plan how to get out in the event of an emergency. If the exits are blocked, have a backup plan for what you would do.
• Be prepared to do without services you normally depend on—electricity,
telephone, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs, and Internet
transactions. It’s a great idea to have nonperishable food, water, batteries, a generator, extra fuel, lighters and matches, cash, flashlights, battery-operated radios, first aid, gas mask, dust masks, flare guns, and medications on hand for emergencies. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Stay Safe & Remain Vigilant
It isn’t good to live in fear, especially since this is supposed to be a free country where everyone is accepted and life is good. Our world is in ruins, and humans are doing more harm than good. It’s time we realize the trivial problems that make the headlines aren’t that important when we are killing off our own country.
Patriot or not, we have to stand up to terrorism on an individual level. We need to be held accountable for our own safety and that of our family. We are Americans, not scaredy cats. We need to work together to ensure the safety of our future generations. They deserve to have a world filled with wonder and enlightenment.
Most seem to live in fear: fear of being attacked by a man who can overpower them, fear that a crazed kid will step foot into an elementary school and take the lives of our children, fear that the government will take away our rights, and so forth. We all have some level of fear regarding our safety. It’s past time we become more vigilant about our safety and less obsessed with the past, politicians, or “fluff” news.
Keep your eyes open, always be kind, never let something inhumane continue, use your voice and your rights. Let’s make America the kind of country we want our children to experience. It’s always easier said than done.