It’s been a beautiful day here in Chicagoland. The sun was shining with perfect temperatures, extending summer into September the way we always hope for. It would have been very easy to ignore all the news reports about today being the 15th anniversary of the worst day in American history. But I never do, it is important to remember all the events of that day, whether your mind can process it or not.
Driving to Iowa on the morning of 9/11/2001 my mother called me to tell me to turn around and go home. That was the first I’d heard of what happened. I had been listening to John Denver on a CD singing about life and love and was feeling so peaceful. That did not last.
Now it has been 15 years. How did that happen? How could something that happened that many years ago still feel like it happened this morning? The magnitude of that day and all that has followed since should never be something to take lightly or forget about. Immediately after it happened, the mantra of “never forget” was adopted. But how often do you think of it? If you were lucky enough to not be a family member or a friend of a victim, how often does it cross your mind?
My girls were 11 and 13 at the time. They laughed at me when I painted “United We Stand” on our mailbox – they were too young to really grasp what had just happened. I knew in my heart that feeling completely safe in this country was never going to happen again. And this is something that crosses my mind regularly.
Today, as I do every year I watched all the news specials. I have seen most of them now at least 15 times. I make it a point to watch these reports, to relive that day. Some choose to change the channel; some choose to pay no attention at all. I don’t begrudge anyone their right to not relive it – it’s depressing beyond words. Disturbing, horrific. But it’s reality. No matter how many times you watch and feel like you’re seeing a movie, it happened.
So, what does never forgetting really mean to people? We can post the phrase on our Facebook pages once a year. Then the next day we forget about it. To never forget means to never forget.
When we go through airport security and complain about all the changes that ensued after that day, people forget that it’s for our safety – so that doesn’t happen again. When our toothpaste is confiscated or our sunscreen lotion is thrown away, we need to remember that there’s a reason that we can’t forget. 2,977 reasons to never forget.
Kids born never knowing their fathers. Think about that when you hug your dad. Widows and widowers that had to learn to live without their spouse. Parents who lost their children and children that lost their parents. Brothers. Sisters. Human beings that had a life. And never the chance for their families to have a normal funeral. When you sit at a family dinner, get together for a holiday or just a quiet evening at home with a loved one, never forget that you can never take this for granted.
And never forget that America must always be the land of the free. We certainly know it’s the home of the brave.