By The Signal
We Americans have notoriously short attention spans. It’s always been true that we become absorbed in the major events of a day, then move on to What’s Next, caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
And never has it been more so than it is in today’s digitally driven culture, where we moved on from television channel surfing to web surfing to social media surfing. If something doesn’t hold our attention for more than a few seconds, it’s all too easy to click on whatever the What’s Next is, and move on.
But there are some things that demand us to abandon that short attention span, to remember, to never forget.
Today is the 20th anniversary of one of those “never forget” moments.
When terrorists hijacked commercial jets and struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with a fourth jet crashing into a Pennsylvania field after the heroic actions of passengers who learned the plane was bound for the U.S. Capitol, it galvanized the nation in anger, patriotism and a collective vow to always remember.
Just as previous generations vowed to never forget the attack on Pearl Harbor, this attack on American soil drew us together behind the notion that we should never forget those innocents who lost their lives, the first responders and other heroes who died trying to save them, and those who rolled up their sleeves to retrieve the dead, clear the debris and prepare a heartbroken nation to move on.
Soon after the tragic events of 9/11, citizens and politicians alike demanded solutions to prevent such things from happening again. And some of those solutions came with an inconvenience.
Prior to 9/11, for example, you didn’t have to take off your shoes and go through a seemingly invasive body scanning machine to board an airplane. But those solutions were put in place to keep us all safe, in the air and on the ground.
Yet, it wasn’t long before people started complaining about how long it was taking to get through airport security.
We should never forget the “why.” Something so profoundly tragic as 9/11 demands that we stretch our attention spans. Just as Dec. 7, 1941, is a date etched into our nation’s collective memory and soul, so too must Sept. 11, 2001, be a date that we refuse to allow to fade as time passes.
The remembrance ceremonies on the anniversaries — such as those that we saw at schools across the Santa Clarita Valley on Friday — are a great place to start, not only observing the loss of life and the innumerable sacrifices made since those fateful moments of Sept. 11, but also reminding younger generations of the “why” behind those observances.
Whatever our What’s Next is, we owe a duty to those who died, those who risked life and limb, and those who fought in the subsequent war that sought to bring the 9/11 perpetrators and their collaborators to justice, and to keep us safe from future attacks:
We will never forget.