KABUL, Afghanistan, 11 September 2006 --This will be my third September 11 in Afghanistan. It’s not an easy place to live or work. Two days ago, a murderer killed two GIs and 17 innocent Afghans by driving a car full of bombs into a Humvee. I’m scheduled to fly down, in a heavily protected Chinook, to the provincial capital of Helmand province, an area that produces almost 50% of the world’s illegal opium poppy. More than a score of brave UK soldiers have been killed in Helmand in the last month. In the eyes of the islamofascists who killed them, their crime was trying to protect a fragile democracy in one of the world’s poorest nations.
Electricity in Kabul is on about six hours a day and more than 80% of the population doesn’t have regular access to clean water. Illiteracy is at 70% with more than 85% of the women unable to read or write. Life expectancy is around 45 and the infant mortality rate is the highest in the world. I’m 7,000 miles away from my home and family, work at least 10 hours a day, six days a week and haven’t had a good Italian meal in months. It’s dusty and hot, except for the winter when it’s freezing, wet and miserable.
So why am I, a 59 year-old PR guy doing here? I’m here because of Jacqueline Lee Genovese. Jacqueline Lee just turned five in May. She is the daughter of Steven Genovese who was 37 when islamofascists murders killed him on September 11, 2001. Steve finished speaking to his father just seconds before the first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center where he worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. I never knew Steve, nor do I know his daughter or widow but I think I can imagine some of the loss this innocent little girl will feel.
I know that no matter how hard she tries, Jacqueline will never really remember her Daddy. Even if her mother Shelly re-marries and her new husband loves her as much as Steve did, she’ll still have that void in her life.
In the past five years we have not read, heard or seen much about the families of the 9/11 victims, those nearly 3,000 innocents who were coldly murdered by members of a group that want to kill those of us they consider infidels. While we are inundated with stories about Abu Ghraib, Pvt. Lynndie England, and “Giitmo” we never hear anything about SFC Paul Smith. We rarely talk about islamofascists pledge to kill us and their continuing atrocities such as Madrid, Bali and London. Rather we “debate” whether we treat islamofascists killers and their cohorts with respect, always looking for ways not to offend.
I don’t think that way. Instead, I think of Jacqueline Lee Genovese and the loss she must live with for the rest of her life. I think of the horrible decision that innocent people had to make that terrible September day, whether to stay in their office and burn to death or jump from a window to certain death.
I don’t want any more little girls to grow up without their Daddy because some islamofascists murderer decided to kill some innocents. I don’t want to have anyone’s son or daughter have to decide whether to burn or jump to their death. I want Jacqueline to live a full and happy life without fearing that she will be killed because she’s not wearing a burqua. I never knew Steven Genovese and I probably never will meet his daughter. But I’m here because of them.