In remembrance of 9/11/2002: As Americans let’s stand tall and united

Published 4:37 pm Friday, September 9, 2022

Turn back the clock. Remember that Tuesday morning more than two decades ago that began with a perfect azure sky and golden sunlight bouncing off Manhattan’s World Trade Center’s twin towers? Remember how the mushroom cloud of brown smoke from the collapse of those towers soon blotted that bright sky and promising day and crushed our souls and brought tears to our eyes?
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, it was a typical day in the STAR newsroom until word spread of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, then on the Pentagon, and then a downed plane over a cornfield in Pennsylvania. All eyes were glued to the TV in the STAR newsroom, and it quickly became the talk of the day. It was hard to move away from it.
When you pause to think back on those moments, now two decades removed, I’m sure you remember where you were, what you were doing and the emotions that enveloped you. Twenty-one years later, we still remember where we were on that fateful morning and in the days that followed.
This weekend we pause to remember and honor those we lost 21 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001.
Today, Wreaths Across America asks Americans to display and wave the American flag as we remember those killed that day. In Knoxville and in the Tri-Cities, as well as other places across the nation, there will be stair-climbing events to mark the event.
Ground Zero, as we nicknamed the Trade Center’s rubble, became a magnet for all that was good in America.
It was an unimaginable attack on America, and it had every ingredient to drive a wedge through the heart of America, be it fear, hatred, or divisiveness. Americans could have withdrawn into our secluded corners.
But we did not.
The remarkable and memorable quality of this attack was the need to be together, to stand united, to be supportive and to be friendly. It didn’t matter, race, party or walk of life — the togetherness was palpable. The 9/11 attacks, which occurred 21 years ago Sunday, not only killed 3,000 innocent people; they left a nation deeply wounded. But those attacks also sparked something else — America unified. It didn’t matter whether you were Democrat, Republican, or Independent, you wept for America.
Suppose such an attack occurred today? Would America unite? It is doubtful.
Why let this attitude be a relic of the past? As we wrestle with masks, politics and differences between us, why not choose acceptance, and a little bit of kindness?
Let’s use the example of 9/11 to prove that even at our country’s worst, that we — together — can still be at our best. And, let us remember all those who lost their lives Sept. 21 and in the 20 years since — first in Iraq and later in Afghanistan. Their lives and sacrifices were not in vain.
Today, we take pause and remember the 2,977 American civilians who lost their lives that day. We remember the 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority officers who gave their lives in the line of service. We remember the sacrifice of the 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93 who gave their lives that day to prevent further casualties.
It’s time we unite and stand tall, America.

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