Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Honoring heroes in a time of terrorism

Sgt. Synnora Guinn of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department was decked out in her Scottish regalia and played “Amazing Grace” on her bag pipes at the end of a ceremony Monday honoring America’s heroes. She stood outside a wide door at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History while those at the ceremony stood and listened inside, candles flickering in the dimly lit room because some lights had gone out, but that made for an even more moving ceremony.

Some of the people closed their eyes and held back tears, and they may have imagined they were at the World Trade Center, where the sounds of Scottish bagpipes are heard at every memorial service. It had stopped raining just before the ceremony, which was moved inside because of the rain. The sun had set and candles flickered inside as Ms. Guinn’s mournful sounds filled the big room in front of her and the night air beyond her.

She stood outside the museum, not far from the tall veterans monument, and motorists must have heard Ms. Guinn’s bagpipes, which is now the instrument of choice when America mourns its dead. Kyla Horton sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America,” our second anthem, which is much easier to sing than the first and sounds better, too.
Current and past military commanders at Little Rock Air Force Base were in attendance, including Brig. Gen. Kip Self and retired Col. Roy Hart and Col. Bill Kehler.

The Kehlers’ son, First Lt. Timothy W. Kehler, who died during a training mission, was among those honored during a long roll call of local heroes. Those participating at the ceremony, like all Americans, were relieved there were no attacks on America on this Sept. 11. Al Qaeda is weakened, to be sure: It could not pull off a terrorist attack on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. All it could do was release a lousy video that threatened more attacks, but al Qaeda is on the run, probably low on funds and many of its followers dead or in custody.

Yet, the U.S. remains vulnerable, as we saw Tuesday, when fanatics tried to attack the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. Their bombs didn’t go off, and perhaps they were free-lance terrorists unaffiliated with bin Laden, but you get the feeling that these suicide bombers are not radical Islam’s best and brightest. But one day, it will take only an evil genius to get his hands on a nuclear device and set it off in the middle of a large city. Let us hope that terrible day will never come.