It is a Moral Duty to Never Forget 9/11

World | September 11, 2022, Sunday // 11:04|  views


Our society is used to horror. We watch movies that show the cruelty and evil in our midst and happily applaud the behavior we see on screen. The success of franchises such as "The Purge", "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and "Saw" is a case in point. The same is true of many popular video games, such as "Mortal Kombat" and "Call of Duty." In "Manhunt," players are required to kill gang members in gruesome fashion; the more gruesome the death, the higher the score. The game is so violent that Germany banned it entirely. But for fans of this genre, the bloodier the better.

Some would say that horror movies and violent video games are harmless entertainment designed to distract us from real life. The problem, I think, is that we're too used to real-life horrors, and our response as a society is largely to take them in stride.

I think this is also happening with the memory of 9/11.

We need only think of mass school shootings to see how this happens. The Columbine shooting in 1999 shook the nation. A few years later, in 2007, dozens of people died in a shooting at Virginia Tech. In 2021, twenty first graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Parkland, Sante Fe, Umpqua, Red Lake, Santa Monica, Uvalde ... the list goes on. After each shot we would collectively shake our heads and utter a few empty platitudes before going about our regular lives.

Only seven months have passed since the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine. The outrage was palpable when Russia attacked. Zelensky's heroism stole the headlines. Americans wondered how to help Ukraine, sent donations, waved yellow and blue flags. The flags may still be on our lawns, but the atrocities are rarely mentioned in ordinary conversation.

Consider the Holocaust. Seventy-five years later, the Internet is full of sites that question whether it even happened.

When Islamic terrorists carried out the attacks on September 11, 2001, we were horrified. Wahhabi Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda hijacks four planes; two of them brought down the Twin Towers; one set fire to the Pentagon. And Flight 93 went down in a field in Pennsylvania, diverted from its course thanks to the heroism of the passengers on board.

We lost nearly 3,000 people on that tragic day. Around the world, millions of people saw the attacks on television, shocked by the scenes of the second plane crashing into the South Tower, the bodies falling from windows, the panicked people crying and running in the streets.

For months, we united in the spirit of patriotism, from waving flags from freeway bridges to wearing NYPD hats. During baseball games, fans held up signs that read, "We're all Yankees" and "Dear New York, I'm sorry." We marked the anniversary with heartfelt ceremonies and communal tears and turned the Twin Towers into a memorial complex.

Two decades later, many Americans are too young to remember the events of September 2001. I have to ask: is the memory slowly starting to fade?

We complain about having to wait in long lines for security before a flight. We complain about having to take off our shoes, about being subjected to full-body scanners, about not being allowed to bring liquids onto planes. We say it's unpleasant as if we've forgotten the horrific attacks that necessitated these precautions.

To a large extent, the memory of 9/11 has become just another historical event that we take for granted. The utter destruction of that day has faded and we are used to it.

But as the philosopher George Santayana said in 1905: "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

It is our moral duty to never forget 9/11. Let us never forget what can happen when an evil ideology becomes a terrorist organization.

We must not forget or become accustomed to the violence of September 11, 2001. We must not forget about the freedom and our way of life that is at stake.

/Dr. Jim White for CT Insider

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