JOE BIDDLE: What has happened to this country we once knew? - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: What has happened to this country we once knew?

Posted: Updated: April 17, 2013 07:08 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

What has happened to this country we once knew?

I grew up, post-World War II. It was a war my father, uncles and other family members and friends fought in.

They have been correctly called the Greatest Generation. Sadly, they are dying off at alarming rates. Most of them are in their late 80s and 90s.

We sent troops to Korea in the 1950s. We lost more than 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, a war that started in the early 60s and ended when we brought our servicemen and women home in the 70s, allowing the North Vietnamese to control the country.

Add Desert Storm and the Middle East conflicts that followed and threats are never far away.

It seems our country has been at war all my life. But now the war has come home to us. That was made clear on 9/11/01 when terrorists leveled the World Trade Center's twin towers by striking them with hijacked commercial planes. The Pentagon was struck that day, killing more Americans. Another disaster was averted when a brave group of Americans prevented the suicide pilots from creating more death and destruction by crashing the plane in a Pennsylvania field, killing all aboard.

Before 9/11, I covered the 1991 Super Bowl in Tampa. We had just invaded Kuwait, running the Iraqi army out. They called it Desert Storm. Security forces were highly visible at the stadium. The media had to go through security checks, taking up to two hours as our variety of equipment had to be thoroughly checked. Everyone went through personal searches. Police dogs were everywhere.

Concrete barriers were placed all around the stadium. SWAT teams were placed all inside and outside the stadium. In case of a chemical attack, medical supplies were stored under the stadium.

I will never forget the late Whitney Houston's stirring National Anthem. There wasn't a dry eye in the stadium that night.

What has happened to this country we once knew?

Flash forward to post-9/11. The 2002 Super Bowl was in New Orleans. I have never seen as many military personnel at a sporting event. Concrete barriers forbid any local traffic from getting anywhere near the Convention Center and Superdome.

At that Super Bowl, Budweiser showed a commercial one time. They weren't pushing their product.

Instead, they showed the Clydesdales being hitched up and taking a trip over a snow-covered countryside. They stopped in Manhattan at a point where the Statue of Liberty could be seen in the distance. No twin towers. The Clydesdales stopped. Slowly, they knelt down in remembrance of 9/11.

What has happened to this country we once knew?

I, like you, have watched the carnage created at the Boston Marathon Monday. We don't know who is responsible for killing three and injuring more than 150 men, women and children by detonating two self-made bombs. I think it is safe to say the coward or cowards who perpetrated this act of terror are not friends of America, even if it turns out they are American citizens.

Instead of waging war abroad, terrorists choose to come to us.

No sporting events going forward will ever be guaranteed to be 100 percent safe.

The Boston Marathon Massacre should serve as a wake-up call. Our leaders better get serious. The bad guys are never going to give up. They hate our guts and now they are killing innocents who were enjoying watching their loved ones competing in a marathon. They were defenseless, totally unaware that anything so heinous would change their lives.

It is the first successful bombing on American soil since 9/11. But there have been multiple threats discovered before they were carried out.

The senior pastor at Forest Hills Baptist Church ran the Boston Marathon.

Pastor Sam Boyd had his wife, daughter, son-in-law and 3-year-old granddaughter with him. He and his son-in-law had just completed the marathon, retrieved their personal belongings and were putting their clothes on a block away when the first explosion shook the ground beneath their feet. The noise was deafening.

They will find the bad guys. Whether they turn out to be American citizens or foreign terrorists, they should never be free to rob innocent Americans from their freedom again.

What has happened to this country we once knew?

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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