I was troubled by something I read in the “USA Today” on Monday morning. The headline – and I’m paraphrasing here — “Are we forgetting 9/11”?
The notion would seem absurd. It was the singular moment of our lifetime, much like the Kennedy Assassination was for our parents and Pearl Harbor was for our grandparents. It changed the world we live in – a change we see every day. From going to the airport to applying for a credential to an event, everything we do has been changed by the horrifying events of 9/11.
That was the subtle point of the article. We are a nation which can “get used” to anything. What seemed like a radical change when security was bolstered six years ago and a war began shortly afterwards have now become commonplace to our culture. We scarcely can remember the days when we could show up for a flight 5 minutes before it took off and get on. We are becoming used to hearing the numbers of soldiers killed in Iraq on the news daily and barely blinking an eye.
The point is the horrible images from that fateful day are just that now – images. They no longer have the same pull on us that they did that day in 2001. Even the incredible act of heroism that took place outside Somerset County has suddenly become part of history, chronicled for kids to read in their textbooks like the Challenger disaster or the fall of the Communism.
In some ways, it’s a tribute to our resilience as a nation that we can move past these horrifying events and live normal lives and persevere. This is true for a small, but growing group of young citizens who can barely remember 9/11. They are now entering high school. At the same time, in a cultural which puts more importance on Britney Spears’ performance at the MTV awards than the on-going hunt for Usama Bin Laden, we need to get our priorities straight.
We cannot and should not forget 9/11. No matter how many years pass by, Americans needs to remember the day we suddenly became part of a larger global picture – and paid the price for that with thousands of lives. Whether you are for or against the war in Iraq, you need to remember how this all started. It started on a day when we realized that freedom isn’t free – and there is a price to be paid for it. In this case, the price was human lives.
I do not know how you plan to spend this day, but I plan to take a few moments around 9:30am today – and remember. Remember where I was ( the Clemente Bridge ) and what I was doing ( heading to the optometrist ) when I first learned of the attacks. I will remember the chilling thought of not knowing what was next and whether our lives will ever be the same again. I plan to remember holding Sharon in my arms later that day as she cried and being unable to find the words to comfort her. I plan to take a few moments to be silent and pray for those who lost their lives and the families who still live with the pain.
Finally, I plan not to forget what happened. How could I? More to the point, how could you?