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September 11 tribute

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

It was supposed to be just another Tuesday morning. People were going to work, like any other Tuesday morning. No doubt people were thinking of many things that morning. Were the rumors of Michael Jordan coming out of retirement to rejoin the NBA true? There was probably talk about the Denver Broncos' 31-20 victory over the New York Giants the night before. Locally, eyes were on the southeastern Gulf of Mexico where Hurricane Gabrielle developed. Three days later, Gabrielle made landfall near Venice, Fl. Three people died as a result of the storm that caused bad weather conditions and heavy rain across much of Florida and the Southeast and approximately $230 million in damage. These are the things that probably should have been on the minds of most Americans that day. However, by mid-morning on Tuesday, Sept. 11, those matters were the furthest thing from anyone's mind.

The events that took place that day and removed all other events from the headlines are seared into the memories of anyone who lived through that tragic day. That day, 19 Islamic militants associated with the terrorist group Al-Queda hijacked four airliners with the intent of crashing them into various building within New York City and Washington D.C. Two planes crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center in mid-town Manhattan, in New York City. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon, in Washington D.C. A fourth plane crashed into a rural field in western Pennsylvania. It is unclear what the intended target of the fourth plane was; possibly the US Capital, the White House, or the Presidential retreat at Camp David. What is certain is that on that flight, United Airlines flight 93, ordinary citizens refused to “go quietly into that good night” and staged an insurrection, foiling the hijackers' original plan. At the cost of their own lives, the people on board United flight 93 became the first of many heroes from that fateful day.

During the years following those events, many communities across the nation and the world have chosen to commemorate that day in many different ways. Almost immediately, tributes began to pop up online through websites. Later, temporary memorials began to spring up in various places, many around “ground zero” where the twin towers of the World Trade Center had once stood. More permanent memorials were placed around the world in places such as Jerusalem, Israel; Melbourne, Australia; London, UK and others in towns large and small across the United States. Many of these permanent memorials feature items such as beams and other pieces of scrap metal recovered from the ground zero site.

Today, many communities across the nation commemorate those events with a variety of services and events. In Tempe, Az., in a park near downtown Tempe, the local Exchange Club sponsors the “Healing Field” commemoration. During this event, which begins in the days leading up to Sept. 11 and concludes on Sept. 12, approximately 3,000 American Flags are placed in the City's Park. Each flag bears the name of a person lost on that day. In other communities, schools commemorate those events with special activities with the students. For others, personal reflection is a way of remembering.

The events of that day affected different people in different ways. Perhaps because of this, the ways of remembering are just as varied.

There are those who have compared the events of Sept. 11, 2001 to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Both dates will live in infamy. One major difference is the attack on Pearl Harbor was an attack by one country's military on another country's military. As heinous as the Japanese attack was, it was at least carried out with a military objective in mind, with military targets. The targets of 9/11 were innocent civilians. In other words, the targets were you and me. The objective was not military. Who knows what, if anything, besides evil hatred was in the minds of those 19 hijackers?

As long as we refuse to live our lives in fear; as long as we continue to love our neighbor; we rob those terrorists of any victory they may have wished to achieve. That is perhaps the best way to honor the heroes of 9/11. In that way, we all become heroes of 9/11.

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