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Ocoee keynoter politicizes 9/11 memorial event

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Norine Dworkin

Founding Editor

Saturday, September 11, 2021


Norine Dworkin

Former first responder Jimmy Brown criticizes Afghanistan exit on 9/11, a national day of mourning.

On a day of national mourning and remembrance, when most leaders strive to avoid politics altogether in the spirit of unity, Jimmy Brown, Ocoee’s keynote speaker, bashed the Biden administration's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in his remarks.

Brown is a well-known former New York City firefighter who was among the first on the scene at the World Trade Center on the morning of the terrorist attacks. He ended up buried in debris up to his shoulders when the North Tower fell.

In his comments — which touched on faith, overcoming 9/11-related mental health issues and looking to first responders as role models over athletes and influencers — Brown said that a 20-year anniversary was a moment when “we instinctively reflect on where we were, where we are today, how we got there, individually and as a nation, taking stock of progresses made, situations improved and lives better.”

While Brown affirmed that he’s been “fortunate enough to experience unbelievable growth and resilience since 9/11, I simply cannot say the same for our great nation. It pains me to no end to see where we have come collectively over the last two decades. We’ve allowed the most extreme voices on both sides, being the loudest, to have the greatest influence upon us causing deep and unnecessary divides.”

He had harsh words for how the U.S. recently exited Afghanistan as the 9/11 anniversary neared.

“… I watched our military load up planes and close up shop in Afghanistan in such a way as to evoke memories of our Vietnam exit. Only this time, we actually left people behind,” said Brown. “Having friends who served both wars, I saw how this rushed, flimsy exit affected each in their own unique way. In those moments, it became all too real that we have not really grown or progressed as a nation over the past 20 years, especially as we recall that today also marks the ninth anniversary of the Benghazi attacks and the American lives lost there.”

Four Americans died in the 2012 attack at the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Republicans in Congress held 33 hearings in congressional investigations plus four public hearings (at upwards of $7 million) on Benghazi and found no wrong-doing by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Newsweek recently reported that 4,300 veterans — including 150 who served in Afghanistan — signed an open letter, published by the political advocacy organization VoteVets, supporting President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The veterans wrote: ”Let us be very clear – the people who got us into this mess have absolutely no right to say a word about how we get out of it. President Biden made a very tough call, knowing that this withdrawal would not be pretty, or flawless. He is cleaning up the terrible situation that the aforementioned people created, and he is dealing with a terrible agreement struck by the previous administration and the Taliban.

“Our support for the President’s decision to leave is as resolute as ever. It is the right thing to do, no matter how many people in the chattering class want to claim otherwise.”

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