For some of you, you may not have been old enough -- or you might not have even been born yet -- in order to fully comprehend the gravity of the day in which we commemorate today. It is a solemn day -- or at least it should be. It's a day which those of us who are old enough to understand what that day was, with the images of the atrocities carried out being replayed over and over for weeks after, having forever been etched into our minds and our hearts. And while we said back then that we would "NEVER FORGET," a lot of people have short memories.
Sure, those people remember what happened that day and realize why it's an important day in our country's history. But those same people forget in a different way.
What many don't realize is that if you objectively look at society before and after the events of September 11, 2001, it's a tale of two distinctly different cultures.
Yes, we're still the United States of America. Yes, people still flock to this nation from all over the world seeking a better and free life. And yes, we still have the same system of government. But since that day, we as Americans have allowed the powers-that-be to so drastically change the way in which we live those supposedly free lives that it's practically unrecognizable from how we lived over 20 years ago.
"9/11" means so many things to so many different people. For some, it raises questions of conspiracies. For others, it's a day that we remember those brave souls who lost their lives going into an unwinnable situation to try and save just one life for another.
And despite all the "theories" about what happened that day, and the fallout of what happened since that day, I choose to remember that 2,977 people, whose day began thinking it was just any other day, are no longer with us. I choose to remember the families who lost loved ones that held out hope for weeks after that thinking and believing that someway, somehow their loved one survived, only to have to face the harsh reality that they would never see them again. I choose to remember the sorrow of a nation that came together -- if only for a short time -- as a true "United" States of America.
But I don't include the politicians in that unity, because they have since used that day to sully our beloved country into something that, as mentioned earlier, is unrecognizable.
And we could get into all of the abhorrent things that they have done in the name of 9/11 to transform the U.S. into something that isn't what it was just two decades ago. Two decades is NOT a long time, folks. It's a blip on the radar. It's a moment in time...a moment that some, despite the awareness of the day, forgot.
Pretty much every single September 11th since 2001, I have a tradition that I undertake -- and I put it that way, because it's not always easy to do -- of watching a particular documentary that has also since been forgotten.
It's simply titled, "9/11." If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest watching it and giving it your undivided attention.
The reason "9/11" is such a powerful reminder of the events of that day is because it wasn't supposed to be a documentary about 9/11. Why? Filming began before that day by two French brothers, Jules and Gideon Naudet, who were attempting to capture what it was like to be a rookie firefighter in the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).
As former FDNY firefighter, and friend of the Naudet brothers so aptly put it, "The strange thing is the tape, the whole story, it kinda happened by accident. I mean, Jules and Gideon didn't mean to make a documentary about 9/11. We wanted to make a documentary about a firefighter. That's how the whole thing got started."
"I don't know. They always say there is always a witness for history," Jules Naudet said. "I guess we were, that day, we were chosen to be the witness."
The Naudet brothers documentary features the only known footage of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center in Manhattan and from inside Tower 1.
And for those of you who know of this documentary, you'll understand the importance of it.
It's so vitally important in remembering that day, because it comes from the perspective of what it was to be a firefighter before, during and immediately after 9/11 -- from the perspective of real frontline heroes that risked everything, if only to save just one life.
That's one of the ways in how I choose, as someone who wasn't directly affected by the events of that day, the events of September 11, 2001.
The thing is, we have all been affected by that day in one way or another. A lot of people just don't realize it. And I'm not going to take away from the importance of the day by going into all the seedy details of how we've allowed our society to change at the hands of people who definitely didn't forget -- if for no other reason than to expand their greed and power and control over the masses. That's a topic for a different day.
This day is to remember those who lost their lives in the radical Islamic terrorist attacks on these United States.
Remember those innocent civilians and the heroes from the FDNY, the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel that sacrificed so that others might live. I put the innocent civilians first on that list, because the heroes I mentioned after them did on that day, too.
Let us also not forget the brave people who have since lost their lives as a result of the aftermath of the events of that day. So many lives lost that weren't killed on that day, but have had to live with the tragedy forefront in their minds while getting sick from trying to help recover their figurative brothers and sisters.
But, we also CANNOT forget something else that happened on this day in a different year. While the events of 20 years ago understandably will overshadow those events from said different year, we should not -- cannot -- forget the events that began on this day nine years ago in Benghazi, Libya.
Another terrorist attack happened there, this time on an American embassy and a CIA annex, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans.
- Navy SEAL and CIA Contractor Tyrone S. Woods
- Navy SEAL and CIA Contractor Glen Doherty
- U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens
- U.S. Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith
They were left to die by our own government -- sound familiar -- which the very top brass had knowledge of the deteriorating situation there, and will forever be remembered as heroes in our hearts. I just thought they deserved a little remembrance on this day, as well.
I could get poetic on what happened that day 20 years ago and what this day means on the whole. But the focus should be on those we lost, not my words. It should be on the lives of those lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on Flight 93. And yes, those lost in Benghazi.
This day means a lot of different things to many people. And despite the level of tragedy that this day brings with it, it also reminds us of the very best of humanity and what Americans are capable of when faced with tremendous adversity.
And that is what we should never forget.