I’m sure you all remember exactly where you were on that horrific day of September 11, 2001. As we remember and honor those we lost on that tragic day we are coming to a point where we must ask ourselves, have we forgotten? We are coming to a point in time nearly 20 years after 9/11 where ceremonies commemorating that day seem more like an afterthought than a necessity.
I simply had to look no further than my own home town of Fair Lawn, NJ. On the days and months leading up to 9/11, we typically see articles online letting people know about the ceremony, when and where it will be held. We hear talk about coming together as a town to remember the three individuals from Fair Lawn we lost on that awful day.
This year things were different. A simple google search online trying to find information about the town’s 9/11 ceremony returned no results. There was no record of the ceremony on the town’s community calendar. In fact, after reaching out to local officials there seemed to be utter confusion about whether or not there would even be a ceremony.
This is the problem we face today nearly 20 years after the events of 9/11 unfolded. The children today weren’t alive to experience the horror we all watched unfold on TV as the towers fell, as the Pentagon burned, and flight 93 fell from the sky in Pennsylvania. The problem is we are forgetting, and when we forget history has a way of repeating itself.
We are becoming complacent. Children read about the events of 9/11 in their history books but that is not enough. These ceremonies, the ceremony that seemed like an afterthought now in Fair Lawn, they are essential not only to remember what took place that day but to teach our children about the unspeakable emotional, psychological, and physical toll that took on every one of us and on the country as a whole.
What is most disheartening is the fact that in my own home town our elected officials intended to hold a closed ceremony to commemorate 9/11. In a town where we lost three beloved citizens, council members seemed to make no effort to hold a public ceremony in which everyone in town could come together.
In times like this where there is so much discord throughout the country, we could all come together to remember and honor those we lost. Following the events of 9/11 we came together as Americans. We waved that great American flag, coalesced behind our first responders, police, and military, and we stood for our National Anthem.
One can’t help but wonder, was this ceremony closed to the public simply because our elected officials in town were afraid to hold such a ceremony where we would remember the sacrifices made by those who protect and serve?
It was merely a month or so ago that our own council admonished our police department following a rally that was held to commemmorate them and first responders during the COVID pandemic.
After some discussion with local elected officials on social media it turns our we are in fact having a ceremony to commemmorate the 9/11 anniversary. However, the question needs to be addressed, would there have been a ceremony had the concerned citizens of this town not spoke up about it? Furthermore, why was the ceremony closed to the public in the first place?
As we approach the 19th anniversary of 9/11 it is just as important to remember that day now as it was the years following that tragic day. When we have local elected officials who for whatever reason intend to keep the public from attending these ceremonies they are doing a great disservice to the town, the people who live here, and to those we lost on that day 19 years ago. I implore everyone to ensure that 9/11 doesn’t become just another date on the calendar.