Some are calling for a national holiday. Others say we should treat it as a day like any other. Americans are split on the best way to remember September 11.
The U.S. news media have special newspaper inserts, catchy slogans and weeklong television specials to commemorate this tragic day. Some people are accusing the media of trying to capitalize on the tragedy while others believe the coverage provides an appropriate memorial to the victims of the attacks.
The days after last September’s terrorist attacks showed Americans at their best: supportive, patriotic and united. Streets were lined with American flags as citizens expressed their commitment to freedom and democratic ideals. Church congregations swelled nationwide. Volunteers and donations poured into New York and Washington from all parts of the country. Millions more searched for ways to contribute from their own communities.
Now the flags have come down, the World Trade Center site has been cleared, Pentagon reconstruction is under way and support money is dwindling. People have begun to wonder if we have forgotten Sept. 11.
But how could we forget?
When a traveler goes through airport security, he remembers. When tourists visit the Statue of Liberty but may no longer climb the steps to the top, they remember. When a news anchor mentions Afghanistan, Iraq or Osama bin Laden, viewers remember. When airline employees are laid off, they remember.
However, remembering the Sept. 11 attacks does not mean constantly thinking about them.
For example, when a man and woman get married, it affects the rest of their lives. They don’t have to wake up each morning and think about their wedding day to remember they are married. They live together, they raise children together, they celebrate together, they cry together. When they are getting kids ready for school, they do not have to stop and remember their marriage. Couples have no need to constantly remember their wedding because every aspect of their lives reflects the decision they made years earlier.
Americans may ask themselves, “Do we still remember Sept. 11?” but what they should ask is, “How do the events of Sept. 11 continue to affect our lives? How have our attitudes, prejudices, fears and expectations changed?” Americans must never forget the deadliest terrorist attacks in history, but we must also move forward. Almost every aspect of our nation has been affected including politics, economics, religion, journalism, travel, and security.
The events of Sept. 11 will scar world history forever, but America must learn and grow. We will not forget because we cannot forget.