This week marked the 18th anniversary of the attacks on America by terrorists bent on destroying us. The day — Sept. 11 — was appropriately marked throughout the area with ceremony and testimonials.
A speaker at the event at Bishop Stadium noted how the date has become an event on par with July 4 or December 7. It’s more than a single day, he said. Gov. Laura Kelly said the lives of those lost, and those who responded, should be “in our hearts on this difficult day.”
All true. It is very good to remember. We should always remember exactly what happened, and why.
There’s another aspect of this that we hope people focus on, as the years go by: The response. The recovery. Or, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, The Rising. That was the title of his collection of songs sparked by the event — a collection that might still be the best artistic expression created about that date. It is not about the tragedy, so much as it is about the recovery from loss.
Our nation was attacked by a group of terrorists, supported by a rogue state in the Middle East. The roots of their feelings go back generations, and we have to look in the mirror — and study their culture — to figure out where those came from.
We responded, appropriately enough, by waging war in Afghanistan, and capturing or killing those responsible. We changed laws, and tightened our procedures. Some of those changes went too far, and we learned and adjusted. We also eventually went to war again, and that was an enormous mistake.
America is not just about vengeance. America is about caring for each other, and learning and growing and recovering.
And so we hope that Sept. 11 becomes, as more time passes, about the way we responded. We’ve been responding to it ever since, really.
Those firefighters walked UP THE STAIRS, into an inferno, to rescue their fellow citizens. Those passengers said, “Let’s roll,” despite the fact that they knew they were doomed.
People who lost their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives ... they also responded. Their loss can never be overcome. But they put one foot in front of the other. They recovered. They rose up, to the extent that they could.
All of us did, in one fashion or another. Because that’s who we are, and that’s what we do.
Sept. 11 was a day of tragedy and loss. It was also a day of response and recovery from that loss. It’s that recovery that we hope is at the center of our memories, as more years pass.