We remember today the 20th anniversary of the horrific 9/11 al-Queda terrorist attacks on America. This is one of the days where people remember where they were when they first saw or heard of the attacks and the collective shock that settled over all Americans.
For some reason I always remember how brilliantly blue the sky was that early September day. I remember a lady walked in my office saying there was something going on in New York with a plane hitting a building, then turning on a TV to then see the second tower hit by another plane and realizing America was under attack. Then the chaotic news reports of other attacks in Washington – on of all places the Pentagon. Of course, the news of the downed flight in Pennsylvania took longer to register but added to the horror that unfolded that day that we were vulnerable to attack from of all things – passenger jets.
America watched as we saw the first responders – firefighters, EMS workers and police – rush bravely in to the inferno at the World Trade Center, risking their lives to save others and do their jobs. Then we began to get reports of lives lost – eventually totaling over 3000 souls that horrible day.
It is so vivid a memory for me and others old enough to have watched this tragedy. Even though it’s been 20 years, the memories are instant enough to still make me sick to my stomach.
What I am realizing as we honor those who died that day, and remember those brave first responders who gave their all, is that there are those who barely remember, or don’t remember at all – the young people of today.
I’ve taken it for granted that everyone around me remembers 9/11 like I do. It’s one of those things that united us as a country, as a people, for months and years to come. Like many others, another aching memory of that day is going to our church that night to be with others in grief, fear and a yearning for some kind of comfort.
Thinking back now, my children were so young then and probably didn’t really get was going on. So it just registered with me last week that many of the young people we see being caught up in the current trend to want to erase or revise whole chapters of American history don’t have any real memory of 9/11. They don’t have the deep pain in the gut others of us have when we see those images of the smoking towers.
One of the common adages cemented into our honoring of 9/11 is NEVER FORGET.
For those too young to remember, that’s kind of hard. Which means those of us who do remember have a responsibility to tell the story and deliver that history. It’s a wake-up call that today, on this 20th anniversary, it is more important than ever to teach future generations what happened on 9/11 and its impact on our country. And that we teach the other tragedies, glories, struggles and victories of the past – our history – and how these events have shaped the realities of our world.
We absolutely must make sure that we never forget – and that those who weren’t here or don’t remember “never forget” as well as we make sure these stories are told and interpreted accurately without guile or agenda. And that we use that memory to stay prepared to deal with a real world where there are those who want to attack America for being the beacon of hope for those who yearn for freedom around the world.
So as we remember this fateful day and think about and give tribute to those who died, and to their families, and honor the bravery of those who showed such courage under fire – let’s make sure everyone NEVER FORGETS.