In 2014, an unidentified man walked into a fire station in Washington State and turned over a plastic bag containing an American flag. He claimed it was the same flag raised by firefighters over the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center following the horrific terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Now, as the nation prepares to mark the 15th anniversary of that fateful day, the authenticity of that banner has been confirmed. The discovery shows that even after all these years, memories of those infamous events still smolder.
Now, most of America has moved on and barely associates the on-going, seemingly endless war on terrorism with that egregious assault. Children born after the attacks are in high school and have no recollection of what happened, and the masterminds of the plot have been prosecuted.
Life continues, for most of us.
But, thousands of suffering family members and friends still grieve those who died on that day. Brave young men and women who went off to war for the cause still grapple with the aftermath. Heroic first responders who rushed to the scenes of mayhem continue to have health problems brought on by their exposure to the toxic dust.
And, we Americans continue to pay the price. We still have soldiers in harm’s way and we willingly sacrificed privacy for security.
It is understandable that we want to forget. It remains unfathomable how anyone could conceive and perpetrate such a heinous crime. How could anybody be so evil? How could we have been so vulnerable? These questions make us uncomfortable.
However, to quote Edmund Burke: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman who supported the American colonies before and during the American Revolution,
We can’t dwell on the past, but nor can we afford not to learn from it.
So, as the impact of 9-11 fades, local volunteers have organized a parade to show support for first responders and members of the United States military at 6 p.m. today. It will follow Main Street to Jack Kilby Square in Great Bend.
It will be a time for us to remember that we are stronger than those who wish to harm us and to honor those whose job it is to keep us safe.