Moving on shows American spirit will continue to triumph

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2002

We survived. Maybe we're even stronger. Maybe more gentle as well. A lot less innocent, certainly.

As the year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, we remember that a year ago today life was "normal."

"Normal" today is somewhat different than it was on Sept. 8, 2001. Security checks and longer waits at airports are now normal. Talk of war is normal. More visible signs of patriotism are normal.

Knowing the unthinkable can happen at any moment is normal.

What may be the most extraordinary thing of all in the year since those terrorist attacks, however, is how wonderfully normal life is. No, it's not normal for those who lost loved ones or those who worked cleaning up the rubble of the attacks or those who were sent to Afghanistan or those they left behind. It's not normal for anyone who lived or worked near the attack sites. It's not normal for anyone who saw the attacks or their aftermath.

But for the vast majority of Americans there still is much which is blissfully the same about our lives. For that, we should be grateful.

As the anniversary of the attacks approaches, we will be reminded of the terror and tragedy of that day. We also will remember the heroes who emerged amid the horror. And we will reflect on what the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ensuing war on terrorism meant and continue to mean in the life of our nation and our individual lives.

The question each of us must answer is: What do I want the attacks to mean?

Sept. 11 can be a catalyst for change or it can be relegated to a day of special services of remembrance. The choice is ours.

President Bush has designated September as a month of service to honor victims of Sept. 11.

"As September the 11th approaches, difficult memories of planes and buildings will resurface. But so will images of brave individuals coming to the aid of neighbors in need," said Bush in his weekly radio address Aug. 31. "That spirit of courage and selflessness has shown the world why our nation is the greatest force for good in history. I urge all Americans to honor the memory of those lost by serving others."

This week, the Peninsula Clarion will publish two special sections. "Reach out ... Volunteer" will be included with your Tuesday newspaper. It recognizes volunteers in the community, as well as provides a list of agencies where others can put their time and talent to good use.

The section is part of a year-long promotion on volunteering. As the attack anniversary approaches, our hope is the special section will provide residents some ideas on how they can get involved in making a difference in this place they call home. We can think of no better tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

The other special section will be included with Wednesday's Clarion. Provided by Knight Ridder Newspapers, the section is a poignant reminder of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and their effect on the nation and individuals.

This is a week to reflect and remember:

The 2,639 New York's World Trade Center victims.

The 125 Pentagon victims.

The 87 victims on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.

The 60 victims on United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.

The 59 victims on American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon.

The 40 victims on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

May we honor those fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends not just with tears, but with a commitment to make the world -- even our little corner of it -- a safer, better place to live.

Sept. 11 can be remembered as a day of terror and tragedy, or it can become a day of triumph. We think those who gave their lives on that day would prefer the latter.

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