How to remember?

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2002

Should September 11 be declared a national holiday? There is no doubt that it is a day that changed our lives forever. There is no doubt that something needs to be done to commemorate the lives lost in the attacks. But we wonder if consigning it to the ever-growing list of days federal employees get to take off is the right approach. Twenty years from now, we will still pause and remember those who died when the date come around, but our children will head for the beach and a three-day weekend, with no more thought for the lives lost than many of us spare on December 7. If we set September 11 aside, what about Pearl Harbor Day? Bunker Hill Day? Alamo Day?

All deserve recognition and remembrance, and for that we have Memorial Day. Although originally established as Armistice Day to commemorate the ending of World War I, it has come to be a day on which all those who died for their country are remembered.

One does not have to be enlisted in the armed services to die for one's country.

On the other hand, we also do not want September 11 to be reduced to a question on a TV game show. While it is not possible - or even wise - to sustain the intensity of the grief and anger we all felt as we watched the towers fall, we must keep the ghosts of those emotions alive.

George Santayana wrote: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

In order to learn from an experience, we mist keep it alive and fresh in our minds and hearts, and this calls for some kind of recognition.

We would call for a more tangible memorial, one that can be seen and touched, one with the deep-reaching impact of the Vietnam War Memorial or the solemn statement of the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. Even better would be one that doubles as a teaching tool. It would let those who come after us capture our feelings of the day, like the recordings made by immigrants now available to visitors at Ellis Island. It could encourage understanding between cultures and belief systems, perhaps preventing any such attack from happening again.

Whatever choice is made, we will always remember that terrible day. What is important is making sure our children do too.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We at the Star-News would like to hear from our readers about September 11 for a special issue we will publish.

Tell us where you were when you heard the news, how you felt then, how you feel now, if your lives have changed and how, or any other thoughts you may have. Short essays and

poems , even artwork will be accepted, as long as your name and phone number are included for verification. To email your story, send it to, or mail it or bring it to 207 Dunson St. Andalusia, 36420.)