Pragmatic Perspective: What we should remember from 9/11

Just days ago, we as a nation commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I remember being an eighth-grader at South Ogden Junior High School when I heard on the school bus radio the news of a plane crashing into a building in New York City. The image that ran through my mind was of a small prop-plane slamming into some kind of warehouse, which was obviously far from the truth. All of the teachers were instructed to conduct classes as usual, but we, the students, were begging for information. I remember my English teacher, Mr. Barney, giving us a full run-down on the events. He explained that it was a likely terrorist attack in which the terrorists had hijacked planes and crashed them into two 100-story buildings in New York, and at that point I was still unaware of the attack on the Pentagon and the United 93 crash in Pennsylvania. He also explained how the towers had collapsed one floor on top of the other, and I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

When I finally arrived home, I couldn’t wait to see what was going on. I recall running downstairs where the television was and catching my first glimpse of the smoking buildings. This, of course, was footage from earlier in the day, because the buildings by that time were nothing but rubble. As I saw the smoke billowing and the terrified looks on the faces of typically fearless New Yorkers, I couldn’t believe my eyes and still couldn’t understand how something like this had happened, and I certainly couldn’t understand why.

A few years later in the summer of 2006, I was able to make a trip to New York and, among the many things I saw, one of the most significant was Ground Zero. On that trip, as I gazed over two gaping holes where two magnificent buildings once stood, I realized I would always remember what I had seen, heard and felt that day in September. “We will never forget” is a phrase that I’ve heard on several occasions referring to the events of 9/11, and there are certainly many things we should never forget and should always remember about the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The victims, their families, and the brave men and women who worked to save lives should certainly always be remembered, but there are other more obscure things that many have seemingly forgotten or even failed to realize in the first place.

The events of 9/11 have helped me to realize that we should all remember, which I often fail to do, that we are not the center of the universe. I often find myself getting so caught up in the happenings, problems, worries and events of my own little world that I completely ignore the lives of others. The fact is our world is to this day plagued with unrest, disaster and war, but thankfully, there are still good people to counteract such events, just as there were during and after 9/11. I would argue that the best way we could honor the victims of yesterday would be to help the victims of today. As we remember the events of that day in September, may we also remember the current victims of drought and disaster in eastern Africa, where tens of thousands have lost their lives and where thousands continue to suffer. I would hope that we can remember those living in fear, and losing loved ones to the drug wars in Mexico. And may we also remember those fighting for freedoms against tyrannical dictators in Libya and in other parts of the Middle East. The events of 9/11 united many in thoughts, prayers and actions, but there is still much we can do. My hope is, as we reflect on the events of 9/11, that we not only remember those who were lost, but also those being lost today. We can and should continue to be united in our thoughts, prayers and actions in order to make the world a better, happier and more peaceful place. In doing this, we will truly be honoring and remembering those whom we lost on 9/11, and there couldn’t be a better way to always remember and never forget.