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Column: Forgetting 9/11 Would Be a Tragedy

Long Valley Patch's editor recalls the most historic day of his lifetime.

8:46 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

It’s a time in history that will be remembered by anyone old enough to understand what happened. It is a black eye that will forever be on the face of America’s powerful legacy.

And it is a moment in time that should never be forgotten.

I was 18-years-old and attending Kutztown University as a freshman on 9/11. I remember clearly, and without any hesitation, exactly what happened, just like so many others.

Walking back to the dorm from my early-morning Anthropology class, I passed a woman on a cell phone–a commodity at the time–and heard her say, “So a plane went into one of the towers?”

I had no idea what she was referring to, and shrugged off the comment. I got back to my dorm where my roommate was still asleep, so I thought I’d do the same. As I climbed into bed, my next-door neighbor pounded on our door.

“Are you seeing this?” he asked, clearly startled. “I don’t know what’s going on, but this is crazy.”

As soon as we turned on the television, another plane was streaking toward the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The three of us stood stunned, watching as television reporters and news anchors couldn’t explain the horror that was unfolding. 

The day continued on, as did the seemingly endless flow of tragic news. Phone lines were jammed, so contacting family and friends in different parts of the region or country was a slow, painstaking process.

A childhood friend of mine who attended Kutztown University tried all day to connect with his sister, who worked in lower Manhattan at the time. It wasn’t until mid-afternoon that he found out his sister was safe. It was the first–and only time since–I had ever seen him shed a tear.

As if starting college wasn’t a crazy time to begin with. Here I am, two weeks into the first semester, and I’m considering going home. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what it would do for me. I just knew I would feel safer there.

We, as a student body, didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know where to go, or how to even get there. Classes were optional for the remainder of the week, at least in the students’ minds.

As each day passed and information became clearer of what actually happened, we learned about the ills–and triumphs–society had to offer. From a radical Islamic-fundamentalist group killing innocent people in the name of their God, to men and women from far and wide stepping up to save and support their fellow countrymen, it was unprecedented time in our nation's history.

We grew up quickly in the ensuing days and weeks.  College life went from tragedy to uncertainty, and, ultimately, war.

Every person in this nation has differing opinions on the course of action America took in years following the deadliest attack on U.S. soil, but Sept. 11, 2001, in my opinion, is a day that cannot be forgotten.

As George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and I couldn’t agree more.

A modern version of Santayana’s phrase is now splashed on bumper stickers, t-shirts, fire company and police department walls throughout the U.S.

"We must never forget 9/11."

I know I wont.

Over the past week, Long Valley Patch and the other 850-plus hyper-local community sites in Patch Media nationwide have shared stories, photos and videos commemorating the tragic day that took place exactly 10 years ago. We hope to have served that day, the survivors, heroes and those who perished with the respect they all deserve.

Tracy Tobin September 11, 2011 at 01:15 PM
On September 11, 2001 the United States of America lost it's sense of invulnerability, that international terrorism would not strike here. The myth that terrorists were really "freedom fighters" struggling against oppression was shredded along with the lives of thousands of victims and their families. Apologists for terrorist organizations lost their politically correct excuses for the type of senseless murder that has infected countries around the world for decades. NEVER FORGET is more than a slogan! Our loss of innocense came at a high price for the victims, their families and friends, the first responders and every day citizens who continue to die from the after effects. GOD BLESS THEM ALL, GOD BLESS AMERICA and NEVER FORGET! Tracy Tobin
judi September 11, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Being the mother of Long Valley Patch Editor, Jason, I to remember 9/11/2001 as if it was yesterday. Trying desperately to get in touch with Jason most of the morning to make sure he was okay, emotionally and physically. Hearing his voice that day was something I will always remember. As my son says in the piece above, with such emotion and honesty--It is a day WE should NEVER forget !!!!

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