I see reminders everywhere of September 11, 2001 and we approach the 10-year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers and oft-forgotten planes that crashed into the Pentagon and, thanks to the quick-thinking of four brave men, into a field in Pennsylvania.
When we are encouraged, maybe chided, into remembering September 11, what is the purpose? When we are asked, maybe challenged, not to forget September 11, what is the purpose?
Is it so we will remain our emotions of that day?
Is it so we will reflect on what we have learned and how far we have come and evolved as a nation?
Is it so we will contemplate how the emotions and eventual political grandstanding of that day led to an apparently ill-advised and protracted war in Iraq?
Is it so we will think about the additional lives lost because of that war?
Is it so we will reflect on the enmity that rose against Middle Easterners in general and Muslims in particular?
Is it so we will examine how the events of that day tumbled into the political fracas that exists today? So we can trace a thread from the political and military missteps, from the full-throated hawks and desk-driving Monday-morning quarterbacking generals who directed us, pushed us into the mire that became the Iraqi war? So we can see if there is a direct connection between the adolescent behavior of our politicians in Congress today and that moment in time? So we can ponder the likelihood that the Tea Party might never have been if it weren’t for that day?
Is it so we can remember the feeling of the vulnerability and the shock that such a thing could happen to Americans and on American soil?
Is it so we can remember the hate and the mindless lust for revenge?
Is it so we can remember the brave men and women who rushed into to try to save others?
Is it so we can remember the horror of pictures of people falling and often apparently choosing to leap to their deaths?
Is it so we can remain the pain of loved ones lost and honor their memories?
Is it so we can remember the fallen emergency response teams? Is it so we can remember and honor the firefighters and police and EMTs and countless others who simply did their jobs in spite of the obvious enormity of the tragedy, in spite of the obvious enormity of the risk to their own lives and persons?