A Day In History Not To Be Forgotten
We are defined by acts throughout history that change our course, some for the better and some that leave us reeling, our reactions muddled.
We have just come off of a week of new starts and celebration — the 2019-20 school year and summer’s unofficial end, Labor Day. But coming up next week, we need to take time to reflect on a tragedy that changed many lives 18 years ago.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 brought down two of our nation’s tallest buildings at the World Trade Center in New York City and killed more than 2,600 people; it smashed airplanes filled with innocent fliers to the ground in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, taking another 265 lives. More than 400 firefighters and police officers died that day, racing into the towers as the buildings collapsed. Thousands more rescue workers who survived that day have suffered incapacitating illnesses related to the toxic debris they bravely fought through to help others, and thousands more people were injured in New York.
The days and weeks that followed were, as with so many tragedies, filled with tales of horror and heroics as Americans sought to understand the hate that had driven suicidal hijackers to bring such devastation to a nation made up — truly — of generous, kind, undiscriminating citizens. For the first time in generations, we were reminded of the gruesome cost of war when it comes to one’s own backyard.
Shock and sadness filled our lives in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, with each recounting of lost futures, from the very youngest at age 2 to the oldest victim, age 85, breaking our hearts and making it difficult to tamp down feeling of anger. Patriotic gestures surged; who does not recall the American flags stretched across the fronts of houses and waving proudly from newly installed flag poles, where previously patriotism had never been overtly expressed?
It is easy to forget how devastating the events of 9/11 have been for our country and the survivors who continue to be affected when so many horrendous events have followed on its heels: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, mass shootings, the re-emergence of hate groups. 9/11 was the realization for many that a new world, with new needs for creating safe environments, was the reality. We have instigated numerous security measures to protect citizens because of 9/11; those who were very young or not yet born then may be unaware of the sacrifices that have led to better security in the areas of travel and public safety. The lessons learned post-9/11 have been valuable, though there is still a long way to go.
The victims of 9/11 did not choose to be heroes. But like those who willingly enter into war zones or are thrust into action, every one of them deserves to be remembered.
As the 18th anniversary of 9/11 is upon us, we must have hope gained from lessons learned when terror tried to overcome our freedom and promise ourselves that terrorism of any kind will not be tolerated on this soil.
At 8:46 am on Wednesday, September 11, pause. We cannot forget what happened that bright September morning if we are to be the best we can be.