The nation that once honored its war heroes with parades and celebrations now all but ignores the extraordinary sacrifices being made on our behalf. Instead, politicians, pundits and the potentates of the press constantly seek ways to denigrate those who serve in our nation's uniform.
Those who define what is "news" for the rest of us have beaten Abu Ghraib like a rented mule for more than a half-dozen years. Newsweek magazine created a totally fictional story about a Quran's being flushed down a toilet at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, generating scores of attacks in Muslim-majority countries. Sen. Dick Durbin likened our troops to those who served Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Cambodian despot Pol Pot. And a reporter for The New York Times claimed that most of those serving in harm's way are just "poor kids from Mississippi or Alabama or Texas who could not get a decent job or health insurance." Those who believe this drivel don't know the warriors of 9/11.
This week's memorial services on the 10th anniversary of that devastating attack on our soil will justly focus on the first responders. The firemen, police officers, emergency medical technicians and everyday citizens who risked -- and sometimes lost -- their lives that day are heroes and deserve to be recognized as such. So are those who watched the events that day and decided to don a uniform and fight back at those who wrought such death and destruction on our shores.
Thanks to young Americans wearing helmets, flak jackets, flight suits and combat boots, Saddam Hussein -- the Butcher of Baghdad -- is no more and bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaida, the vicious radical Islamist movement bin Laden spawned, is fractured and badly damaged but still alive in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Chechnya and seeks to take advantage of uncertainty in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The ayatollahs in Iran are guiding violence in Syria and threatening stability in Iraq.
While we recall those who were lost on 9/11, we would do well to also remember those who serve in our armed forces because of what happened that day. They forfeited the comforts of home, absented themselves from the affection of loved ones and went into harm's way to protect us from those who would once again visit unspeakable terror on our homeland. They, too, deserve our thanks and prayers in this decade of war, because it isn't over yet.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.