It’s hard to believe 9/11 happened 17 years ago. That’s the entire life span of today’s high school senior. There are children and young adults with no memory of the terrorist attack on our country.
Like my parents, who remembered where they were when they heard of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, I have become the elder generation obligated to tell a lived history and explain to the young how – in a matter of minutes one sunny September morning – the world as we know it changed forever.
It seems there are fewer memorial services for the victims of 9/11 than in years past. Yet, some of the survivors are still affected by the attack and its aftermath, such as first responders who today are being treated for cancer and other illnesses caused by the towers’ collapse. And what of the countless military servicemembers who gave their lives fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Not to mention those who continue to risk their lives and limbs overseas. Are these not reminders? Anyone who has laid a wreath on Warriors Walk under the branches of Eastern Redbud trees on Fort Stewart, or has connected with a soldier at the Warrior Transition Battalion understands that like ripples on a pond, the impact of 9/11 continues spreading outward.
If you were not able to attend a remembrance ceremony yesterday, try to attend one next year, as the anniversary of that dreadful day inches closer to the 20-year mark. Better yet, let us honor the victims by trying to live fuller lives, to be kind to one another, to support those who struggle through difficult times, and to seek common goals with those we disagree with.
As terrible as that period was for our nation, most Americans – for a brief time anyway – were unified. Perhaps we need to strive toward toning down our political rhetoric and come together for the sake of our nation.