Those of us alive at the time remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, when Saudi-led terrorists hijacked four airliners and flew two of them into the towers of the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon. The fourth plane, headed for Washington D.C., as well, was taken out of action by its passengers, who sacrificed their lives to save others’.
Sacrifice is the key word here.
Some of Saturday’s 20th anniversary reportage emphasized that ceremonies were mourning the lives lost. The true mourning belongs to surviving family and friends. The rest of us honor and acknowledge the sacrifice other Americans made as the targets de jour for people who hate our country for its liberal, tolerant, inclusive society, its republican form or government and, yes, our support of Israel. As far as the terrorists were concerned, it could have been any of us.
The official death toll from Sept. 11, 2001, was 2,977, but that (deliberately) fails to include the first responders and rescue/retrieval workers sickened from digging through the toxic ruins. Along with the heroism of the passengers on Flight 93, other accounts of brave actions by first responders and office workers alike surfaced as we began assessing the damage. But, I have no doubt there were hundreds of acts of selfless heroism in progress when the collapse of the towers muted those stories.
It was one of the darkest days in our history – and, we choose to remember it, remember the sacrifices and remember how it united us as a nation.
By coincidence, we are not alone in commemorating Sept. 11 as a dark day that reinforces national unity. More than 100,000 people marched in Barcelona Saturday on La Diada, the National Day of Catalonia. On Sept. 11, 1714, Catalonia lost its independence and was annexed to the Spanish Bourbon monarchy.
Those marchers were remembering what was lost, and the resulting sacrifices over the years by many of their ancestors in trying to achieve self-determination. And, this was the first La Diada since the release from prison of Catalonian governmental officials sentenced for holding an independence referendum in 2017. (Independence won.)
The clueless would say: Why does their national day celebrate a defeat?
Well, we remember Pearl Harbor.
Texans have been remembering the Alamo and Goliad for 185 years.
The tribal nations in Eastern Oklahoma commemorate the Trails of Tears and Death that their ancestors marched prior to reestablishing their communities in Indian Territory.
I read Greek Reporter on-line on a regular basis. It always remembers The Battle of Thermopylae though, as it with most accounts, it focuses on 300 Spartans who might have been fighting because their orders forbade a retreat while ignoring the 700 Thespians (Greeks from Thespis, not actors) who volunteered to stay in the pass and fought to the death as well.
We have Memorial Day. We have Veterans Day. We have Dec. 7. And now we have 9/11, another opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by others that created who we are today. There is something in our unirace makeup that forges apparent defeat or disaster into resilience, resistance, redemption.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)