Today’s anniversary is another opportunity to remember — to never forget — those first responders who ran in when everyone else was running out, those workers and others who cleaned up and helped rebuild, and the far too many still suffering, 18 years later, with health challenges and mental scars, much of it the result of heroic and selfless acts.
Unfortunately, in Duluth, there are few reminders anymore of that terrible day in September 2001 when terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers in New York City and into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing nearly 3,000 innocents. Another hijacked plane, Flight 93, crashed in Pennsylvania, its mission foiled by brave passengers.
Even though an enemy, unprovoked, attacked us on our own turf, even though so many perished, even though that day changed forever how we travel and how we go about our lives (a little more paranoid, to be sure, and a lot more careful), and even though today’s date was seared into our collective consciousness, our commemoration of the moment has waned.
Did you forget it was Sept. 11 today? You’d be far from alone. No city event is planned in Duluth, just as none was held in 2017. Last year there were remarks and honor-guard rituals, but the ceremony was poorly publicized and then just-as-poorly attended.
And doesn't it get just a little easier every year, with each anniversary date, to just let it sneak past, to not think about it so much, to care a little less?
Remember those first anniversaries after Sept. 11, 2001? The patriotism. Our shared and lingering anguish. Sept. 11 events had to be held at spacious Bayfront Festival Park back then.
This year, there’s far more buzz over the ill-conceived location and timing for and then the abruptly canceled Camp David meeting between the U.S., the Taliban, and Afghan government leaders over an agreement to end the war in Afghanistan. Our interest in 9/11 has faded so much, it’s being trumped by politics.
Anyone interested in a reminder of the need to remember and honor, even all these years later, can consider the words of former New York Gov. George Pataki. He wrote these words for CNN on the five-year anniversary of 9/11: “The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reshaped the face of the nation and the course of history. Our lives and the lives of those to come ... changed forever. … We must never forget the depths of inhumanity to which terrorist fanatics are willing to sink in the name of their depraved cause as they seek to destroy the very principles of freedom and democracy on which this great nation was founded. … Remembering that day is not a choice but our solemn obligation. Always remember that we were attacked not for what we do wrong but for what we do right."
The News Tribune Opinion page has shared Pataki’s words before in commemoration of today’s anniversary. They provide all the more reason to recall, to honor, to memorialize — and to never forget.
Even in Duluth, where we’re now left to do it on our own.