By Mark W. Danielson
Ask any adult about where they were when two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and they can tell you without a pause. Like Pearl Harbor, September 11th, 2001 was a day in infamy that left permanent emotional scars. Last year on its eleventh anniversary, patriotic music blared from the 9/11 memorial in front of Newark’s cargo flight operations building, the new World Trade Center was lit up in red, white, and blue, and the two iconic blue beams representing the old World Trade Center stretched to Heaven. This year when I flew out of Newark at virtually the same time there was none of that. I found that odd, particularly since our nation is teetering on involving itself in yet another Middle Eastern War.
Considering this, I wondered if I was the only one confused by our forgetfulness. I’m equally confused over video games portraying virtual combat with such authenticity that it numbs the senses and yet the majority of these gamers would never consider joining the military to defend their country. When President Obama first addressed attacking Syria, the vast majority of those polled absolutely opposed intervention, but the legislators ignored their constituents, instead, swaying with the President to protect his reputation. I am baffled by their actions.
My generation was the last to be affected by the Selective Service Draft. For those too young to know, the draft was a lottery that determined whether you were going to enter the military service against your will or not. A lot of young people who were drafted during the Vietnam War died there. And even though statistically more volunteers died than draftees, people flocked the streets to protest our foreign occupation. Twelve years after 9/11, we are still in Afghanistan, turmoil in the Middle East is spreading because cleric extremists are replacing toppled leaders, and few seem concerned as they scan their smart phones in Starbuck’s. On this anniversary, how many will think about those who are still fighting and dying overseas, or remember the over three thousand civilians that died on that fateful 2001 day?
Each of us have an obligation to keep memories alive, particularly when it comes to important historical events. We can do this by talking about it in casual conversation, or spreading it through the social media. We need to come out of our shells and stand united against foreign occupations. We need to recognize that the United States is a population rather than a geographical border. We must focus less on ourselves and instead develop a greater social conscience. We should all strive for peace.
If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to close your eyes and remember where you were on September 11, 2001. Remember the horror of watching people leap to their deaths from the World Trade Center, splattering like watermelons on the streets of Manhattan. Remember how our nation pulled together and stood united against Bin Laden. Remember the over two thousand soldiers who have died in Afghanistan because their country sent them there. Honor the fallen and injured, and understand that those without physical scars can be every bit as handicapped in their struggle to achieve normalcy. If everyone took a moment to remember our past, we might begin to alter our future and bring our soldiers home.