Bill Harding: Remembering 9/11

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Today marks the seventh anniversary of the coordinated attack on U.S. citizens, air carrier services and buildings that are symbols of a free capitalistic society. Al-Qaida terrorist sponsored teams of fanatical suicide "warriors" paralyzed our internal air transportation system while using commercial carriers as jet fuel bombs directed at our symbols of financial, military and political centers.

But in sharp contrast to the standard profile of suicide bombers, the 19 hijackers were well-educated mature adults, whose belief systems were fully formed.

The attacks were meant to demoralize and paralyze a society by showing that they can and will strike for their cause anywhere in the world. They had been using the same tactics in the Middle East to instill fear - coercing citizens to cower in their homes and not do anything to challenge their way of "thinking" or more loosely "governing" their everyday life.

The initial death reports were huge and ever changing, during the crisis seven years ago. Thousands of people were in the strike zones daily. Final counts have the 19 hijackers excluded from the 2,974 confirmed dead. There are still 24 missing, unaccounted for and presumed dead. Most of the victims were civilians, and because of the World Trade Center operations, more than 90 countries were affected.

The airline passengers accounted for 246 of the dead, 2,603 were killed in the WTC area, and 125 (55 of these were military personnel) were killed at the Pentagon.

Included in the death toll were 411 New York City emergency responders killed when the twin towers collapsed. Many survivors are now struggling with health issues because of airborne particulate exposure.

In comparison, during a military attack in 1941 using military aircraft on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. death toll was 2,350 including 68 civilians, with another 1,178 injured. Two waves, each involving more than 180 planes, caused this destruction.

Of the dead, 1,178 were sailors on the U.S.S. Arizona that was blown apart and sunk in seconds. Pearl Harbor took us into World War II to confront and defeat two leaders and the military forces they commanded. Sept. 11 began U.S. efforts to face the war on terrorism, which now involves two major geographical locations centered in the Middle East, but has an unknown worldwide enemy of extremists searching and seeking access onto our shores to strike again.

So, here's what you should do:

Fly an American flag, a flag of any size, on 9/11. Those flags that can be flown at half-staff should be raised in the morning and slowly lowered to half-staff. At sunset, the flag should be raised reverently to the top and then remain flying if properly illuminated; or lowered, folded and stored until the next day it is to be displayed, which will be Sept. 17 and 19.

All Americans should fly the flag year-round, but if you don't, then at least make it a point to do so on Sept. 17 and 19.

Secondly, pause during your daily activities and remember we are at war and our young men and women are facing danger around the world. If your belief system includes prayer, then add them and our governmental leaders to those you seek wisdom, safe return and safety for.

We wish them a safe return home soon.

500th U.S. troop has fallen in Afghanistan

America has reached a somber milestone in the global war on terrorism. The VFW mourns the loss of these American heroes and also those killed in Iraq.

As you read this, please take a moment of silence in their honor. Please remember all they've given for our freedom, and the lives we've lost : fathers and sons : mothers and daughters : neighbors and friends.

Telehealth Clinic back to normal operation

The Craig Telehealth Clinic reopened after the Labor Day week closing. Normal operation hours and services are back in place.

VAMC looking for

low-income veterans

In case you missed it in the Daily Press, I am addressing the information posted there these past two weeks. The Grand Junction VAMC is searching for low-income veterans who might qualify for VA medical care based on their income levels. The current income threshold for a single vet with no dependants is $28,429, and $34,117 for a married vet with a spouse.

For Moffat County, the geographical means test is a little higher - the vet is $30,200 and married vet is $34,500. Each additional dependent adds another $1,909 to the threshold number. Those low-income vets who qualify do not have to have a service-connected disability to recieve care. The only eligibility criteria is the vet must have been discharged under honorable conditions.

For more information, call 970-242-0731, ext. 2407, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For information about these programs and/or other veterans' benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St. (west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot).

Call 970-824-3246 or fax 970-824-7108. Our e-mail address is veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment only.

Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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