Nation is too busy to remember 9/11?

By Bethany Reinhart

On Sept. 10, 2001, I boarded an eastbound plane, nervous with anticipation as I headed to my first-ever, out-of-state business meeting. I was filled with excitement. It was my first trip to New York City, and I was scheduled to tour our flagship store at the World Trade Center the next day.

The tour never happened. The day I was scheduled to tour our WTC store, 19 men armed with box cutters and boarding passes changed our nation forever.

My experience with 9/11 was absolute chaos. Words cannot define the thoughts and feelings I had during the the first hours.

Initially, survival mode kicked in and there was no time for emotion. As we scrambled to ensure our own safety and contact our loved-ones, our minds were consumed with thoughts of our co-workers in tower two. When the tower fell, all we could do was pray.

As we approach the seventh anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly be reminded that it is a time to remember the most barbaric attack in our nation’s history. But with every anniversary, the once poignant memories seem to fade. We went from a nation that stood together and vowed we would never forget to one that is bogged down with greater concerns and has become too busy to remember.

On the eve of the seven-year anniversary our failure to remember seems more apparent than ever. Some will scoff at the idea that we have forgotten. Sure, we might recall exactly what we were doing when we first heard the news. Many of us can recall our own actions with exact precision. But amid all that remembering, it seems we have forgotten the truly heart-wrenching images that were etched into our minds the days and weeks after the attacks.

The first anniversary was rife with both emotion and passion. Together, from public schools to private homes, Americans reflected on the tragedy and the year that ensued. Upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s directive, all public schools in New York City observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time at which the first plane hit. Church bells rang out at 10:28 a.m., marking the moment both towers had fallen. Americans were still somber, shaken and filled with grief. Five years after the attacks, Americans came together almost ritualistically. The passion and unity the Americans shared on the first anniversary was rekindled halfheartedly, at best. Like the four years that proceeded, names of victims were read from a podium at ground zero. Wreaths were laid in Shanksville and at the Pentagon. CNN and other major news networks streamed live coverage of the day’s events. Analysts and commentators recapped how the nation had changed. But somehow the message seemed to be lost in translation.

By the 5th anniversary of 9/11, the full impact of the tragedy seemed to have worn off. Somewhere along the line, it became acceptable to tell jokes about 9/11. Google the phrase “Sept. 11 jokes” and you might be appalled at what you find. Politicians from both sides also discovered ways to use the tragedy in attempts to promote a political agenda. Americans, true to our own reputation, had found ways to exploit our own tragedy.

Instead of standing side-by-side as a nation in unison, we have become a nation divided. We have spent seven years placing blame and pointing fingers. But somehow we, as a nation, need to stop placing blame and stand together again in the same way we did immediately following the attacks.

We don’t need to commemorate that every day-that is what the anniversary is for. However, we do need to remember it every day. In the wake of the most horrific attack in our history, this nation showed strength and resolve at a time of fear and uncertainty. So this year, if nothing else, stop to remember the unprecedented level of unity this country showed seven years ago. That may be the very best way to honor those who lost their lives.