Look for hope, but never forget

Nineteen committed people can change the world.

That is the frightening reality that we learned 19 years ago today, after Americans and the world watched while civilian airliners were used as piloted missiles to bring terror to New York and Washington, D.C., and passengers aboard United Flight 93 fought back before their doomed airliner was crashed into a peaceful farm field just east of Pittsburgh.

And, while Sept. 11, 2001, is receding in time, it is not in effect.

Since that day, we have seen wars, seemingly without end. The world has accepted that madmen bent on using violence as a political statement always will be with us. The “war on terror” is not a war that can be won in the sense of holding a victory celebration, or a definitive event such as a Victory over Terror Day. There is no VT Day to join the VJ and VE days from World War II, nor can there be, for ending terror means ending evil ways in the minds of people who simply cannot tolerate others, opposing viewpoints or differing religious beliefs.

Today, there will be flag ceremonies and memorials, speeches and remembrances. They will look different than the previous gatherings, as America and the world continues to fight yet another battle, this one against COVID-19. Restrictions that have been put in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus mean attendance at those events will be lower than we are accustomed to seeing.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t remember — or that hatred does not still loom among people. Extremists on all sides of religious and political fences continue to push their doctrines. Well-meaning people who do not think beyond their own wants create controversies and move to the extremes to join those already there.

Sept. 11, 2001, was 19 years ago.

But its lasting effect goes onward as generations of human beings who were alive that day cannot go beyond its memory, or the memory of the world as it was before that day.

So much time has passed since that late summer Tuesday morning, in fact, that children who were born right around that day have graduated from high school and now are enrolled in college or vocational training, or even are embarking on careers. Some have married, and some now have families of their own. They are unaware of the day except through what others have told them or what they’ve read. They are able to vote now, and will be making an impact on what our future will look like.

It is up to them to begin living lives not tainted by living through that day, and to change the way the world lives.

We remember, mourn, honor and reflect on this annual day of grim reminders that have been burned into our minds. And, while we will never forget Sept. 11, 2001, we must continue to look for hope in the years that lie ahead.


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