Commemorating 9/11 on its 20th anniversary

Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

I was not born until one month and 13 days after Sept. 11, 2001.

I wasn’t alive on that day and was barely even fully formed in my mother’s safe womb, but this national tragedy still shakes me to my core, even on the 20th anniversary of this terrorist attack.

At what point will this painful memory begin to fade into the pages of our history books?

“Never forget” has long been the dialectic marker of this tragic Tuesday.

So, do we really want this pain to leave our forever changed hearts? Or will we carry this weight and unity as a nation until the end of time?

Patriotism and militarism runs deep in my roots.

Today is not only the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but it is also Patriot Day, established as a national holiday in remembrance of this day.

Patriotism is something should feel as Americans in response to this event.

And unity.

I am the granddaughter of three Vietnam veterans, one before and two during the war, the daughter of a Desert Storm infantryman and the niece of U.S. Air Force active-duty member Senior Master Sgt. Robert Alan Hollenbaugh, who lost his internal battle in 2019 after 25 years of service to our great country.

Maybe this is why I feel so deeply connected to an event I never encountered or was alive for.

But do we not experience this pain each time we see a video of the Twin Towers tumbling to rubble or images of soot-coated citizens desperately fleeing from the monstrous black cloud of debris, chasing the survivors of the collapse?

Do we not all feel immense respect for our first responders — firefighters, police officers and EMS workers, 412 of whom reached the final clause of their oath that day, giving their lives to protect and serve the city of New York?

To this day, survivors, citizens and emergency responders, continue to struggle with health issues related to smoke inhalation, jet fuel exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pre-9/11 military personnel feel utter disappointment; could they have stopped this had they caught Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm, halting the terrorism movement in its tracks?

Post-9/11 military personnel struggle with the never-ending war.

America still mourns.

The effects of this day will be felt by us as a nation as long as we continue to share this story, and the story of those who fell victim to this act of terrorist violence.

May we never forget the brave on the front line of our battle, before, during and after 9/11, who never let violence win.

If you would like to educate yourself on the events surrounding 9/11, check out the series “Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror” recently released on Netflix, which studies what led to this day, the attacks themselves and all the events to follow.


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