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September 11, 2001: Have We Forgotten?

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I hosted a morning show at a radio station in Vermont. We’d just come out of the news and I went to the kitchen to refill my coffee when I heard Don Imus on the kitchen radio say that there were reports that a plane had flown into one of the twin towers. I thought he must have been mistaken. Then I went back into my studio and just as I turned on my microphone to talk, I glanced up at the TV and saw the second plane hit. There was no mistaking what had just happened.

Every part of my body began to tremble and I didn’t even try to hold back the tears as I recounted what I’d just seen.  The next hours were chaotic as I ran back and forth from my studio to the fax machine and news wire gathering as much information as I could. Listeners with friends and family in NYC and Pennsylvania kept calling, looking for information and I felt helpless because I didn’t know what to tell them.  We were all shocked at what was happening and believed that the world was crumbling in front of our eyes, and in fact, it was.

It felt like time stood still. Planes smashed into buildings where mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters were working, just trying to earn a living. Innocent victims. In the end, almost 3,000 people lost their lives that day.

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In the days and weeks following September 11th, there was such a sense of responsibility to be kind to others, even to strangers. People were a little less quick to react with a negative word and faster to react with compassion, peace and grace. Through this unspeakable tragedy, we were unified as one. We were Americans and we stood strong together. Flags were flown proudly on almost every house and car and business. In the town that I lived in; a flag bigger than any flag I’ve ever seen was hung from the tallest buildings over Main Street. It’s no longer there and I have no idea where it ended up.

As the pain in our hearts has begun to heal, we’ve gone back to our regular lives- the way we were before September 11th.  I actually just  saw a flyer online touting a “September 11th Sale” and instantly felt sick to my stomach. Have we forgotten?  I don’t know that we’ve completely forgotten, but I think September 11th doesn’t mean what it once did. I think we’ve become so wrapped up in all of the conspiracy theories and political agendas that we’ve forgotten that all of us were under attack that day.  Lives- innocent ones, were lost. Families were destroyed.  The terrorists didn’t pick their victims based on political affiliation or religious beliefs.  They attacked us all.

September 11th is a day that should be of remembrance, not a day to make a dollar or gain a vote. It should be a day to reflect on those who lost their lives that day and those who’ve lost their lives as a result since. It should be a day that we stop for a minute to  teach our children about what happened so that when we’re gone, they can share our memories of that day with future generations so that September 11th will never be forgotten. It’s the least we can do.

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