Sept. 11th:  Focusing on Remembering Instead of Mementos


Many preparations are underway to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. 

There is no signature statement to mark that date similar to the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued regarding the Pearl Harbor Attack on Dec. 7, 1941 when he claimed that was a “day that will live in infamy.”             

Unfortunately, there are no words to capture all the emotions, the trauma, and the memories that the Sept. 11 10th  anniversary will conjure up to provide comfort to the survivors, relatives, residents, rescuers and workers who experienced catastrophic losses, unanswered questions and long term health complications. 

President Barack Obama signed the Officer James Zadroga Bill into law that provides additional resources and health monitoring for rescuers and workers impacted by the toxic dust at Ground Zero. 

Many of the benefits outlined in the bill to help ailing workers and support their families is “too little too late” for a growing number of rescuers, including Officer Zadroga whose name is on the act that re-opens the 9-11 Victims Compensation Fund.  

The Sept. 11 10th anniversary is scheduled to provide a backdrop and “unveiling” of the 2.6 million square foot Freedom Tower, which will become America’s tallest building. The 1,776 foot structure, with the height figure to match the year of the American Independence,  is designed to be both respectful and functional to incorporate and remember those who were lost, but to also recapture prime office space in lower Manhattan. 

Let’s not forget that New York is the financial capital of the world, and unfortunately many have been trying to capitalize on this tragedy. 

There is the 9/11 coins that were allegedly minted from gold believed to be “discovered” in the Towers and other items ranging from t-shirts to medallions with the towers emblazoned on them with promises that the funds generated will benefit survivor families.  In most cases, that is not true. 

From a 9/11 Heroes Run in Longmont, Colo. and Tunnel to Tower Run in Mobile, Ala. to a patriotic display of 3000 flags in Tempe, Ariz. and various National Day of Service activities, there will be remembrances nationwide.

According to David Paine, President and Co-Founder of MyGoodDeed, a driving force in getting Sept. 11 designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance, “No other day has the power of 9/11 to transform our collective understanding and commitment to service and to engage people to step forward to help others.”

In the other locations where the attacks occurred, organizations such as Voices of 911 will be holding a forum on Sept. 10 and a commemorative luncheon in Alexandria, Va., not far from the Pentagon as well as New York.

In Shanksville, Pa., the first phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial will begin and on Sept. 11, there will be  special ceremony at 9:30 AM to mark the time that the passengers took action to try to storm the cockpit.

Unfortunately, the commercialization of the Sept. 11 10th anniversary has cast a long shadow over the need to reflect on the tragedy and to focus on avoiding senseless acts such as these in the future.  Like Pearl Harbor, this country was again exposed and our vulnerability, for one moment in time, brought out a sense of unity and togetherness that was unmatched.

For those of us who volunteered at Ground Zero, we experienced a camaraderie in the face of devastation and loss that reinforced the fabric of a country and the resolve of a people that although bent, was not broken.

We saw a city and a nation that was humbled, but not defeated and committed to renew and rebuild.  We did not see gender, color, age, sexual orientation or political standing, what we saw working together, crying together and standing together was the United States and a united people.  That is what many will focus on during the Sept. 11 10th anniversary.

Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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