Repeated phrases are a cornerstone of any civilization. From small nursery rhymes to educate children, to Bible verses one will carry throughout his or her life, repeated phrases are used to instill values, principles, morals, or obligations.
However, the downside of repeated phrases is when they become monotonous to the point where they lose their value altogether. Repetition for the sake of itself rather than the preservation of a belief or obligation undermines the intrinsic worth of said preservation. When the focus is lost, so is the message, and so is the memory.
We arrive at a similar junction every September, where pledges to “never forget” are duly upheld by most. While most people do not sully the events of September 11, and more importantly the sacrifices made during the most devastating attack on U.S. soil, some are complacent in allowing the importance of remembrance to surrender to the slow crawl of time.
Marking twenty-two years since arguably the most tragic day in our country’s history, annual events, memorials, and tributes consistently held every year would make you think hardly any time has passed at all. This is also owed to the special and unique connection Long Island has to the attacks, and New Yorkers in general will never truly be able to forget that terrible day.
But we find ourselves at an inevitable realization: more and more people who were not alive or very young on September 11, 2001, are entering schools, workforces, and professional circles. The significance of that day can be taught, but the experience and sheer horror of living that day cannot be taught. Explanations only go so far when something more horrific and sinister than could have ever been imagined occurred on one of the most innocuous days of the year.
We invite our readers to peruse social media sites to find comments discussing a casual lack of awareness of the date September 11. Some comments can be found stating “I was wondering why I’m seeing 9/11 posts, and then I looked at the calendar.”
The date goes without saying and it’s almost unconscionable that we live in a time where a casual disregard is not only more common, but that it seems to be becoming the norm. More and more people develop this exterior that seems to lead them to unintentionally forget the day we swore we never would.
There will come a day when all who lived to experience the tragedy of September 11 are no longer here. There will come a day when only YouTube videos of news broadcasts and excerpts from textbooks will be the most accurate representation of what happened that day; there is no escaping that. The priority is to ensure that intentional, flippant, disregard and cries of “just get over it” do not become the standard bearers for the collective mood swing against remembrance of September 11.
Part of this can be blamed on our current culture. Our fast-paced, sensationalist, instantaneous, want-what-we-can’t-have culture of grandstanding politicians and garbage mainstream media all make it difficult for us to remember to rip off a page of our daily desk calendars, let alone remember the date we see when the new page is exposed. In a world consumed by consumerism and pestilence, keeping the important things at the forefront of our memories becomes an increasingly difficult challenge. This is not to say that these are excuses, rather reasons for why and how the world got out of touch with itself in a relatively short period of time. In the end, twenty-two years is not a long period of time when it comes to major, traumatic, life-changing historical events.
The byproduct – one created by more sinister design – is the obsession with each other in the most negative way possible. Not only do we forget the day on which everyone in this country truly felt like an American, but we forget every day that we still are. We don’t – and shouldn’t – need an international tragedy of unmatched proportions to remind us of that, but somehow it feels like nothing else will give. We constantly hear about how no one in their right mind would ever want another 9/11, but to permanently recapture the feeling of unity, strength, and disregard for petty differences on 9/12 is long-awaited by the American public and long overdue.
A country that needs and yearns for true unity will never be allowed to focus on the last time such a peace was felt.
In addition to never forgetting the events and significance of September 11, don’t let the powers that be allow you to forget what it means to be an every-day American, September 11, September 12, or not. Is it ridiculous to think that the distractions that take our eyes and hearts off of September 11 aren’t intense enough to take us off recognizing our neighbors as neighbors, rather than enemies?
Distractions can always be manufactured, but true unity is bred from hardship. It is true that difficult times create strong people, who create good times, which create lazy people, who incur difficult times again. The cycle is an endless one that has governed human civilization since the dawn of time. Learn to make lemonade with the hard times and never lose sight of those times when the good times come around again.
The powers that be would rather us forget our history, our roots, and our struggles, not only so that we lose that taste of true unity, but that we forget our progress and believe all is worse than ever. Some of us will forget, and some of us already have.
“We will never forget.”
The Messenger certainly will not, and we truly thank all who served and sacrificed on that day.