It’s time once again, to reflect on how the world has changed… how inexorably our country has changed since September 11, 2001. It has been 10 years since terrorist attacks felled the Twin Towers, damaged the Pentagon, and stole the lives of close to 3000 people.
Of course the death toll is actually much higher. In our subsequent War on Terror, to unearth and destroy those who instigated war against civilians in the United States of America, 6207 casualties have been confirmed by U.S. Central Command in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
In our often mundane lives, many days may blend together without more than a passing thought. But I’ve yet to meet any American who doesn’t remember exactly what s/he was doing on September 11, 2001. I was in training at American Express Financial Advisors in Orlando, Florida. One of the supervisors interrupted our training to state a small plane had hit one of the towers. Our trainer attempted to keep us focused on training, but I recall thinking it was a terrorist attack. Not much later, we were notified a second plane hit the other tower, neither plane being small, and all the financial advisors gathered in the Regional Director’s office to watch the news. I stood in awe as I watched the first tower fall.
My soul died a little that day, as the unthinkable had happened; we’d been attacked on our own soil. It wasn’t really the first time, of course, as the World Trade Center had been attacked and minimally damaged in 1993. Yet as a young child my father, a Marine at Guadalcanal, had assured me that nothing like Pearl Harbor could ever happen again; that no one would ever attack America on its own soil. It was a false assurance; one my father took to his grave with him, dying 13 years before the terrorist attack that further divided this country and further desecrated our constitution.
For awhile after the September 11thattacks, Americans seemed to come together. We seemed united as a country. I, for one, paid more attention to the people I had contact with in grocery stores and places of business. Many folks felt the need to really be present with those they had dealings with; I remember focusing on the faces and gazing into the eyes of those I encountered. It didn’t take long, however, until the pro-American love-fest ended, and we divided as a country even more.
But this op-ed is about remembering. I know many people who remember all the time; Blue Star Mothers and dads who have children serving; patriots who wear red shirts every Friday to express gratitude and support for the sacrifices our servicemen and women make in the name of freedom; Guardsmen, Reservists, and Active Duty troops who have sworn the oath of service since 2001 (and those who have continued serving since the Cold War and beyond); Veterans and service organizations made up of first responders such as Police and Firefighters….
In towns and cities across the nation, there will be parades and celebrations, memorials, and prayers this weekend to commemorate the brave and the fallen of September 11, 2001. In Las Vegas, a three-day memorial is planned starting September 9 and running through the 11th; the Las Vegas 911 Remembrance: Igniting the Spirit of Unity. It includes a tribute wall, a 9.11K race/walk and a 91.1K bicycle ride, a motorcycle run, a parade, and an equestrian day.
However you choose to remember September 11th; please include a prayer or a moment of silence to remember all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice since that fateful day in 2001; civilians, first responders, and military alike. For many of us, the terrorist attacks, and the ensuing changes since, have made up the greatest national challenge of our lifetime. If you feel moved to do so, please add your recollections of September 11, 2001, or any prayers you may have, to the comments section. Let us find a way to come together again.