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9/11- Have We Forgotten What We Should Never Forget?
On this eleventh day of September, 2011, the rallying cry “Never forget” will ring out even more stridently than it has in the past. While passing years tend to dim visions of some events, the attacks that took place 10 years ago were so horrific, that each passing year serves to etch the images and emotions of 9/11/01 even deeper into our memories.
What have become less clear over the years are the reasons for never forgetting. Certainly, remembering the heroism of victims, responders and survivors serves not only as an inspiration, but as an exaltation of American spirit and resilience. Just as certainly, the mind-numbing loss of life that resulted from the attacks is a reminder of the unforeseeable risks we all face. But in the rhetoric that has evolved since 2001, it appears that as a nation, we’ve forgotten the genesis of the 9/11 attacks, and the risks it implies for the future.
We should never forget that the 9/11 attacks were conceived and executed by a group of Islamic extremists. The operative words in that sentence are “group” and “extremists”. It is as foolish to suspect all Muslims of being terrorists as it is to ignore the fact that all extremists, Muslim and otherwise, are potential terrorists.
We should never forget that war is no longer waged only by traditional armies or guerilla groups seeking a specific military outcome. The “armies” of the 21st century may well be comprised of loosely affiliated recruits who seek only to kill in the name of their cause. Some recruits will be home grown, others will be immigrants, many of whom entered the country illegally.
We should never forget that efforts to secure the nation against attack may intrude on individual freedoms. We must also never forget that the need to secure the nation does not give license for such intrusions.
We should never forget that freedom of speech is also freedom to inflame. As dialogue evolves over the best means of securing the nation, some of the rhetoric will inflame nerves left raw by the pain of the 9/11 attacks. And some rhetoric will quell the inflammation and ease the pain.
Most of all, we should never forget that we are truly fortunate to be living in the United States of America.
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