It’s so easy to forget.
And yet, it’s so important to remember.
As we approach the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, we don’t have to have hours-long ceremonies or big television specials to commemorate the terrorist attacks that shook our nation to its core.
But we should all pause to remember the sacrifices of servicemen and women and civilians who rushed to help others who were trapped in the Twin Towers and to sort through rubble after the towers collapsed. Many of those people still feel the repercussions of the event, both emotionally and physically.
We should remember those who died in the attacks and their families, as well.
The anniversary of this event is good reminder that no day is promised and that we, as a nation, enjoy so many freedoms that other countries do not have.
It’s also a reminder that although things have “settled” back to normal, there’s no guarantee that we are “safe” from tragedy, as evidenced by the Batman shooting in Colorado, in July.
East Manatee Fire Rescue Training/Safety Officer Tim Hyden has been organizing a Sept. 11 memorial service for several years, and it’s a torch he again has picked up for this year, with the help of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Corp.
While meeting with him and Lori Basilone, director of Community Activities last week, I also had the privilege to meet GreyHawk Landing resident Garrett Lindgren, who will be speaking at the ceremony at 9 a.m. Sept. 11, at Manatee Technical Institute’s East Campus, off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. The ceremony will last about a half hour and will include the singing of the national anthem, the lowering of the flag to half-staff and the singing of “God Bless America.”
Lindgren’s story has made him a popular speaker for Sept. 11 events, but he doesn’t mind. He feels like it’s his badge to carry, so to speak.
A retired New York City Firefighter, Lindgren had gotten off his shift — one for which he’d switched — just minutes before the call went out to respond to the attack on the first tower. He watched it burn in flames as he was driving, he said.
“All those guys got killed right after I left,” he said. “Everybody in my firehouse got killed. I was on the bridge looking at it. I wasn’t out of that firehouse three minutes before the first plane hit.”
Lindgren said he especially hopes to remind young professionals seeking careers or working in careers as first-responders that the word “routine” shouldn’t really exist in their vocabulary. At some point, they will see and experience something they never dreamed possible, and it could happen numerous times over the course of their careers.
His words should be a lesson, too, for those of us who do not regularly put our lives in harm’s way for the wellbeing of others.
Each day we have is a gift. We need to treat it as such, and tell our friends and family we love them, and we appreciate them. We need to soak in the satisfaction of a good day’s work, or the brilliance of a Florida sunset.
While Sept. 11, 2001, rended our hearts, it also drew us together as a nation, and made us focus on the things that truly are important. So, as we remember Sept. 11, 2001, this year, let us remember the lives lost in the attacks, as well as the lessons we’ve learned in their aftermath.
It’s so easy to forget.