Here in Las Vegas (for at least 6 years following September 11th), a cemetery out in the Northwest would set up this fantastic memorial for the month of September. They would put an American flag out for each and every victim of September 11th! That alone would have been awesome, but they also had an info card attached to each flag saying the name of a victim, their age, what location they died at, and a little about them. My kids were much younger back then, but they still LOVED to go there. Before we'd go, I'd always take the time to explain to them the sacredness of the display, what it represented and that we needed to be very reverent and respectful while there. My older two girls would walk around flipping over the info cards and reading as many of them as they could - even my ornery 5 year old who never liked any family outing!!! The whole thing was just put together so systematically. Each flight was grouped together and then the Pentagon. It was an amazing, humbling experience to walk through so many flags and try and comprehend the tragedy of that day. You felt like you had walked through SOOO many flags and then you hit the World Trade Center area . . . and it went on FOREVER! I knew that almost 3000 was a large number, but being able to visually see how many that actually was - well it was quite something. Then I started contemplating what a great miracle it was that more didn't die in those two buildings - of how many could have been in there. It was just an emotional experience all around.
Sadly, they haven't done this display the last few years. I really miss it. I hope it's for a good reason - like perhaps their flags or poles started breaking or the name cards were getting tattered and lost. I hope it's not because we don't care anymore. I wish they would bring it back so I could experience that raw emotion each and every year and keep it fresh in my memory. I think it's very important - even critical - that we as a nation ALWAYS REMEMBER that day in our history.
Why is it so critical for us to "Never Forget"? Because unlike most tragedies that occur on a regular basis around the world and in our own country, this one somehow UNITED the ENTIRE nation! It was a terrible day - but out of that horror and death and fear came STRENGTH. Our country came together like I had never seen it come together before (or since). The sense of patriotism in this country was at an all time high. For once, people were PROUD TO BE AMERICAN, and not fighting to be different. Flags waved from houses, businesses and cars for months afterwards. Prayer and memorial ceremonies were held time and time again. God was actually invited back into our country for a short time. It is sad that it took a tragedy to unite us. It is sad that it took a tragedy to remind us to turn to God. It is sad that most have again turned their back on Him and the sense of unity and patriotism is LONG GONE. I still have HOPE for this country though. I just hope it doesn't always take tragedies to make us wake up and do kind things for each other. Let us ALWAYS REMEMBER that we are all united - we are all working towards the same goal. As the great poet Bon Jovi says in one of his songs about this day:
"I found the spirit; they couldn't ruin it.
I found the courage in the smoke and dust.
I found the faith in the song you silenced.
Deep down it's ringing out in each of us . . .
Where we once were divided, now we stand united.
We stand as one . . . UNDIVIDED!"
***Just for fun, here's my ALL TIME FAVORITE video tribute that came out shortly after the attacks. It perfectly captures the emotions and feelings we were feeling as a nation right afterwards.
And if you have more time to kill, here's just a video montage tribute about the whole event. The song just keeps repeating because there are tons of photos.