Note: This column appeared in The Times (of Northwest Indiana) on September 17, 2009.

Last week’s eighth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, was yet another reminder that Billy Joel, in his infinite musical wisdom, was right — we didn’t start the fire.

People, including fellow citizens, will try and blame the United States for the proliferation of terrorism the world over the past decade or so, but look at the facts and the history of what our country and the world has gone through in just the past 60 years. You will see that Billy was right — we didn’t start the fire.

Was it not the United States that was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001? History has regarded President Harry Truman’s use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the only choice he had these many years later. Might history also view Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom — which combined liberated 50 million people from tyranny — the same way?

As President George W. Bush said time and time again, historians are still evaluating our first president, George Washington, so we shouldn’t be too quick to judge how the decisions of the second President Bush, in the face of a growing terrorist threat, will play out over the course of time.

On that same token, we should not rush to judgment on why 19 individuals decided to board commercial airliners and plunge them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania that September morning.

Can we guess and make educated assumptions based on the facts as we know them? Of course. But to continue saying the United States is at fault and asked for something this horrendous to happen, or even worse orchestrated the tragic events, is complete nonsense.

Charlie Sheen and the same Internet conspiracy theorists who claim we never landed a man on the moon are convinced our government was aware of the 9/11 plot and did nothing to stop it in an attempt to build a case to go to war in Iraq and secure re-election.

There are not many things that disgust me more than that belief. In order to even think that was the case, even for a moment, you would have to have no faith in any aspect of humanity. You would have to assume there is no good on this Earth and that everyone only wants to do harm. Talk about a sad way to live.

There is evil on this planet. We saw it in 1941, again in 2001, and we see it nearly every time a suicide bomb goes off in Iraq or Afghanistan. We see it every time cable news shows air a new video or audio tape from Osama bin Laden — as they did last week — and we see it every time Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il’s faces are flashed on the screen. It is real, and they all existed long before Sept. 11, 2001.

Like I said, Billy Joel was right.