To Boldly Go: Remember 9/11

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America vowed to remember. 

We were bold in our grief, unapologetic in the love of our country and we swore we would never forget.

It was evident how thoroughly we’ve forgotten on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

At the flag retirement ceremony, held by the ROTC and the Vietnam Veterans, it was clear who had forgotten. It was not the veterans who had forgotten, not the greying heads and worn hands that had fought and killed in defense of our nation, nor the young cadets who someday would.

All of them have seen friends and leaders leave their native shores and fight for the rights that the sheltered, indebted masses at home take for granted. Many have boldly gone themselves to fight in the sand and in the jungle.

While the Vietnam War is over and veterans will never see combat again, the cadets who retired the flags Tuesday are the soldiers who will be going overseas to fight, kill and die. They go because 11 years ago, a radical organization sought to wreak terror and havoc on the Western civilization they so despised. They go because 11 years ago, almost three thousand Americans were killed on U.S. soil. Since the wars in the Middle East began more than twice that amount, nearly three times as many Americans have died in our defense.

No, it is not the bold soldiers of yesterday and tomorrow who have forgotten. 

It is everyone else.

The people of Dixie State College forgot.

No administrators showed up.

No faculty members were present.

No student body leaders were there and I could count the students who showed up on one hand.

Where is the boldness of 9/12, when the grief made us strong and we honored the fallen? Where is the patriotism and appreciation for those who defend us?

It seemed that those who cared most about the losses America sustained on 9/11 were those who had fought and will continue to fight to protect Americans, and that’s not good enough.

For those of you who didn’t have the time or the inclination to remember 9/11 and mourn for the American losses, shame. For those of you who didn’t care to thank those who defend our country from future wrongs, shame. For those of you who would reap the rights of our country while doing nothing to defend those rights, shame. When you live on the backs of the working soldiers, free because of their sacrifice and refuse to acknowledge your debt, shame. Shame on you for your ingratitude, foolishness and callousness.

11 years ago, in the smoke of the burning buildings, in the ruin of the Twin Towers and the ashes of other Americans, we vowed to remember. We swore we would never forget, we swore to defend and honor our country,to do anything and everything necessary to keep America free.

Don’t forget. Don’t forget those who protect you. Don’t forget those who defend you. Don’t let your apparent safety stupefy you into a complacent blindness. Be bold enough to remember, and show your respect.

Show your respect and your remembrance by shaking the hands of the soldiers, new and old who fight for you. Stand when the national anthem is played with your hand over your heart and stay standing until the last note has been played. Stand when the flag approaches, hand proudly on your heart, until the colors are out of sight.

I want you to remember every detail of where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing the day the towers fell. Zero in on the feelings of shock, devastation and even hatred. Let the grief fill you until, like the clouds on nearly every anniversary of the attack, you overflow with tears.

We paid too dearly in American blood to forget now. If we’ve all forgotten, then what did our soldiers die for? What did we begin a war for? What did we send men and women to get shot at for? If we don’t remember, then all the suffering means nothing. If we don’t remember, then they died for nothing.

This year, we forgot 9/11. After 11 years of war, we’re in too deep to forget.  We owe too much.

Be bold enough to remember.