Wednesday, September 04, 2002

The 11th of September

The picture that is as clear today as it was then is the one of the jumpers. Hanging on the ledge. Heat from the fire burning their backs. The last ten seconds before the last ten seconds of free fall. In that documentary by the two firehouse Frenchmen, the sound of the dead weight of one jumper and then the next, hitting the roof over the entrance. A dreadful thud. And another. And another. Osama did that.

The other picture that is as clear today as it was then is the one of other jumpers; Special Forces guys parachuting into the mountainous regions of Northern Afghanistan. I counted roughly 35 of them in the AP photograph; all of them laden down with equipment and weaponry. Thirty-five guys from places like Beckley, West Virginia and Emirald, Montana and Tyler, Texas. Jumping into a truly forbidding country, by themselves.

In less than two months, they changed the face of that country. And changed the calculus of terror.

The men and women of Special Operations and Special Forces will never ever get the recognition they deserve. Goes with the job. Salute them anyway.