Apparently, time does heal all wounds. On Monday, America faced the 16th anniversary of 9/11. On September 11th, 2001, America, and the world was changed forever. That event showed the worst of what people are capable of, but it also showed the best of what people have in their hearts. New Yorkers in particular showed their heart, humanity, and mettle.
Over the past few days, I’ve been struck by just how ordinary Monday was. Maybe it’s because we’ve just dealt with Hurricane Harvey, and were in the midst of worrying about Hurricane Irma…but 16 years later, something is definitely different. Maybe the answer is as simple as time. I can remember the first few anniversaries, with great reflection, television shows non-stop, ensuring we “Never Forget”. And of course, the 10th anniversary was huge…for some reason, we tend to go overboard with certain anniversaries, and 10 years is a big one; maybe it’s the visual of the double digit.
But it seems that each of the past six years has had less and less mention or reflection of September 11th. When you think about it, now that the tragedy is 16 years old, anyone under the age of 25 really doesn’t have too many memories of the day or the subsequent days, weeks, or months which followed. And definitely, anyone under 20 has no clue…they may as well be hearing about the JFK assassination, or Pearl Harbor.
Maybe it’s because the country has become gradually more and more splintered over the past decade, so the sense of community and civic pride isn’t as strong. Maybe it’s a combination of all those things, and a hundred more; our attention spans are shorter than ever, we’re just too busy with our day-to-day lives, more immediate matters take over our consciousness…etc.
Whatever the reason, I’m here to say, it’s wrong. Certain sentinel events in our lives should never be forgotten, reduced, or minimized. I’m probably one of the few 40-somethings who can tell you that Pearl Harbor was on December 7th, 1941, the day which President Roosevelt said would live in infamy. And, November 22nd comes and goes with nary a mention.
I fear that we are fast becoming the world of The Matrix, where everyone has taken the blue pill, blindly and aimlessly walking through their lives. I for one want to take the red pill, and not forget. It’s important to remember and honor those who came before us. Those who sacrificed, suffered, and perished. So yes, it can sound like a cliché to simply say, “Never Forget”; but it’s true. We must never forget what happened 16 years ago; the people who died on that fateful day deserve our thoughts and prayers. They deserve so much more.
Regardless of political affiliation, I still remember with pride; President George W Bush taking the mound at Yankee Stadium and throwing the best first pitch I’ve ever seen, (while wearing a bullet proof vest). I remember that even though, less than a year earlier, he barely won the presidency; yet after 9/11, he was EVERYONE’S president. And, we were ALL one America. It’s a shame a national tragedy is what it took to bring us together…(I was at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park soon after 9/11, and they were playing “New York, New York”…we truly were ONE). It’s also a shame that not even 20 years after, the memories are fading and we are as divided as ever. If we don’t remember 9/11 for the tragedy that it was, we should at least remember it for all the good will that came out of it from American to fellow American. If we can harness that feeling, America truly will be great again.
God bless the souls who perished on September 11th, 2001.
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