Today marks the thirteenth year since the infamous attacks on The World Trade Center buildings and Pentagon as well as the hijacking of a fourth plane that was brought down with the help of passengers before reaching its target destination.
Prior to this heinous series of events, the historical question most often asked of Baby Boomers was, "do you remember where you were when President Kennedy was shot?" I don't know a single one of my contemporaries who doesn't.
Although the Kennedy assassination took place 38 years earlier, and despite numerous tragic events since, including the 1993 underground garage World Trade Center bomb detonation and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, nothing rocked Americans like the events of September 11, 2001.
Suddenly, as if we hadn't been before, we were susceptible to attack. America was vulnerable.
What was more devastating, the loss of life or the alarming awakening to the realization that on any given day, America could be attacked on its own soil?
I remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot... in school as a student. When news of the Twin Towers attacks was broadcast, I was in a school, teaching.
I experienced the Kennedy assassination as a child, which was a tragic event seen through the eyes of parents. 9/11 was a rude adult awakening about the threats to American security posed by terrorists.
While to Baby Boomers, the American "conflict" in Vietnam was a very real event opposed by many but also supported by others, it wasn't seen as a sign of the vulnerability of the U.S.. Vietnam was a more "political engagement" that spawned much protest killing and destroyed the lives of many valiant members of our armed services.
Even today, the repercussions of the Vietnam action reverberate; the brave soldiers who lost their lives or those whose existence is a psychological hell on earth still have never received the acknowledgement they should. As a nation we've moved on, our collective memory alive, but relatively inert.
However, for many of the Vietnam vets alive today, that "war" is still going on. It has taken on other forms, but it's toll is still being felt. Any Baby Boomer with an ounce of sensitivity doesn't need to be told when he or she meets the suffering living symbols of a political action gone bad.
What about the toll on vets of our most recent wars? The number of killed is tragic and those wounded and otherwise impacted almost incalculable and a travesty. Where is the outrage?
Today, the September 11th attacks are more vivid in our minds, as is the suffering of the widows, widowers, children, families and friends who lost loved ones on that fateful day. They are in the minds and hearts of people around the world. As they should be. There will be ceremonies, news coverage and political events commemorating this horrific day in our nation's history.
I'm not a political writer. I'm not as well-versed as I could or should be in our nation's history. However, I'm a concerned American citizen and a Baby Boomer who'd like to share a few thoughts.
It's both saddening and anger-provoking that last night, less than 12 hours before the anniversary of 9/11, our President found it necessary to address the American public on the very real threat posed by yet another terrorist organization.
Saddened and concerned by the belief held by the majority of Americans that we will be attacked at some point in the future. Maddened because it seems as if nothing has changed. Things are running out of control... particularly in the political arena.
There is only one word for the political posturing... disgusting. Listen to one cable channel and hear the President lauded for finally being decisive in pledging to take action against ISIS the Islamic led terrorist group.
Turn the channel and another talking head will castigate Mr. Obama, saying he's only taking action now because his political popularity is so low and polling indicates that the American people want him to take action.
I'm not a politician nor a pundit and I don't know why action will finally be taken or whether our withdrawal from Iraq was premature and led to the current international situation that could become a national one in the blink of an eye.
I'll tell you what I am: An embarrassed Baby Boomer. A member of a cohort some 67 million or so strong that has sat idly by for the last 30 to 40 years and allowed our government to engage in the kind of activities that have led to today's sorry state of international and domestic affairs.
Baby Boomers are perhaps the best educated and wealthiest generation in history. They are great parents, sometimes overprotective and too involved in their young children's lives, who have tolerated the nonsense that passes as our two party political system.
It doesn't matter if you're on the left, right or somewhere in the middle; political partisanship has played an integral role in all that transpires.
Could we Baby Boomers have predicted and prevented the international events that have culminated in the creation of terrorist groups bent on destroying America, Israel and many of their own people... possibly not.
Could we and should we have pushed for action on the genocide occurring throughout the world these last many years? Absolutely! Can anyone tell me the difference between not intervening in genocide in The Sudan and our late entry into World War II? Not if they are intellectually honest.
By decades of inaction and tolerance of world events and our own domestic gamesmanship, we have failed by any standards.
What good to be loving, caring parents and grandparents while we have been content to simply let events run their course as we have complacently sat by? Sure, many of our children are well-educated and hold good values. But are they -- and will they -- be safe now and in the future?
Here's the takeaway from my little diatribe.
Baby Boomers are not responsible for the action of groups like ISIS. We didn't create Al Qaeda or any of the other Islamic terrorist groups. We didn't create the Janjaweed in The Sudan or the religious conflicts that have raged seemingly forever.
However, we bear the shame for not being better shepherds of our country's actions throughout the years. We should have been more involved. We should have protested louder.
We should have spoken out so forcefully that Washington politicians would understand they were elected to represent the people, not their party.
As we commemorate the tragedy of 9/11, let's do something more.
Baby Boomers have lots of living yet to come. Don't re-live the complacency of the past. Commit today, September 11, 2014, to using our numbers, money, power and most importantly knowledge to help steer this great country onto a path that is moral and just. Let's get rid of the game players and those who would cripple this great nation through manipulation and deceit.
Pledge that we'll act as crusaders in charting the course and leading the charge to ensure that the America our children, grand and great grandchildren inherit will be a more effective world leader and domestic innovator resulting in a safer, enlightened more humane nation for all.