Tonight is the eve of 9/11….eleven years ago, America was going about her business as usual. Families were sitting down to eat dinner, teens were doing their homework, parents were tucking their children into bed. School had just begun a few weeks ago and the crisp excitement of autumn was in the air. I don’t remember what I was doing on September 10th, but I certainly remember the next morning.
More than a decade later, we must ask ourselves: do we really remember? Are we truly “never forgetting”? Do we have special plans for tomorrow in order to pay tribute to those who perished? Do we still draw the connection between 9/11 and the war our servicemembers are fighting?
Today in “The Early Brief” e-mail that I receive every morning from Military.com, I read this article: US Numbed to Troop Deaths. I believe that title is absolutely true. An average of one American trooper each day is killed in Afghanistan, but yet, the American civilian has sacrificed nearly nothing and probably don’t realize this. The only civilians who sacrifice are military families. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whining about this – this is just a fact, albeit a hard, sad fact. The mentality of the American public is much different than it was than, say, in World War II. My grandma knows what it’s like to sacrifice for a war effort without even having a family member serving.
Troop deaths, most of the time, are only a blip on the radar screen of national news. If it’s a local guy or girl that is KIA, the local news probably pays homage. But other than that, it’s hardly mentioned or noticed. In the Military.com article, Max Boot, who is a military historian and defense analyst, says that ” ‘Few, it seems, do [care], except for service personnel and their families…It is almost as if the war isn’t happening at all.’ ” Exactly.
Marine Lt. General John Kelly (whose son was killed in Afghanistan almost two years ago), says that ” ‘Only a tiny fraction of American families fear all day and every day a knock at the door that will shatter their lives.’ ” I know exactly what that fear feels like. (Although in my case, it would have been a devastating phone call from his mom or brother, since I’m not married yet and therefore not included in next-of-kin.)
What does this have to do with 9/11? A lot. We need to remember tomorrow – all the innocent people who died, all the firefighters and policemen who sacrificed their lives saving others, and all our military, past and present, who have been sent to the Middle East because of the terrorist attacks…and especially all those who have died defending our freedom. But 9/11 should also spur us on to remember every today, because 9/11 is still impacting our lives and the lives of our military. Vacations and “casual Fridays” don’t exist in Afghanistan….what will you do to honor them?
[Picture taken on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by yours truly]