09/11/06 — How we honor: Victims of Sept. 11 deserve our renewed commitment

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How we honor: Victims of Sept. 11 deserve our renewed commitment

On Sept. 11, 2001, we all promised that we would never forget the nearly 3,000 people who died that day — or the brave men and women who risked their lives to save them.

We gathered together as a country — a small oasis against the cold-blooded cruelty that we had witnessed. We joined hands and prayed as we watched the horror that we never believed could happen. We took care of one another — and those who had lost so much that day.

We flew our flags and vowed that no one would ever defeat us. We talked about the American spirit and the patriotism and unity that have always made this nation great.

We teared up when we heard the national anthem — or saw the images of those whose lives were erased in a moment that fateful day. We placed our hands on our hearts and felt a swell of pride as we watched a huge flag drop off the side of the Pentagon — a message to our enemies that they had wounded us — but would never defeat us.

We cheered as President George W. Bush stood in the middle of the destruction at ground zero in New York City and declared that we would catch the people responsible for the losses we had endured. We vowed to support the men and women who would carry out that mission — as well as those who were starting the cleanup and rebuilding in New York and Washington, D.C.

We were proud when we heard the story of the men and women on Flight 93, the plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania. Their determination to fight back — to make sure the terrorists who had captured their flight could not do more damage — and their heroic sacrifice to make sure that happened inspired us all. Their story reminded all of us of the true definition of the word, courage. But we still weren’t surprised. After all, they were Americans — and that is what citizens of this nation should do — fight back against injustice and evil in all forms.

And now it is five years later.

We say we remember. We say we are still determined to be the strong, united and courageous country we promised to be on Sept. 11, 2001.

We say we are proud to be Americans and that this nation will always stand for what is right and just. We add that we want to be world leaders — doing the hard work and taking the tough stands so that others can share in the freedom we cherish.

We say those terrorists will never divide us — and that we will never forget the images that changed many of our lives that fateful day. We vow never to forget the men and women who died and the families who were forever changed. And we promise to honor those who are carrying out the mission of the war on terror.

But have we lived up to those promises?

How many flags are flying today, and how many people really are thinking about how those 3,000 people died?

A proper memorial to the losses this country endured on Sept. 11 requires us never to forget the mission we vowed to complete the day those towers fell.

We owe a debt to those who died in New York and Washington, D.C., to make sure we do everything we can to stop the people who would kill even more innocents around the world in the name of their cause. We owe their families the knowledge that their deaths will be avenged.

But we owe even more to the passengers of Flight 93. Those men and women decided to fight back, and in the process, probably saved thousands. Their action is the essence of what it should mean to be an American. They put their nation above themselves and showed a band of thugs what courage really is. We should carry on their mission.

Now, as we start the next five years after Sept. 11, it is time for a renewed sense of duty, patriotism and commitment to who we are as Americans and what that flag really stands for.

It is the least we can do — remember.

Published in Editorials on September 11, 2006 11:08 AM