How was your "remember 9/11" weekend?

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Panarisi
"How was your weekend?"

How many times have you heard this question?

For most of us, our answer will highlight the family activities, kid's sports events, sometime with a favorite hobby, or maybe details of a short trip.

I hope that over this past weekend, your answer was a little different.

Saturday marked the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation, now commonly referred to as "9/11."

Few events in our nation's history have had such a profound impact.

In my parent's generation, everyone "knew where they were" when President Kennedy was assassinated.

9/11 holds that same eerie place in my mind.

I can tell you exactly where I was, what I was doing, and how all of our lives changed forever on that day.

Once again, the nation was called to arms, and we haven't stopped since.

So much has been written about the events of that day, so much has been done in response, but less commonly known is how we, as a nation, have chosen to honor those that lost their lives on that day.

Shortly after the attacks, the House of Representatives voted 407-0 to ask President Bush to establish a national day of mourning, known as "Patriot Day" on Sept. 11.

President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on Dec. 18, 2001, and declared Sept. 11, 2002, as the first observance of this Day.

As with other days of national significance, the president asks all of us to fly our flags at half-staff, and more importantly, observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EST, the exact time the first plane impacted the World Trade Center.

Many of our local municipalities have adopted and hosted "events in the square" this weekend.

But surprisingly, I sensed that overall the day passed without much attention.

That scares me. It's up to all of us to keep the memory of that event alive.

We owe it to the thousands who were killed on that day; the countless heroes who literally ran into burning buildings to save lives and, in the act, gave up their own, and the tens of thousands who have been sent into harm's way as a result of that event.

In what has become one of the most well known speeches in our history, President Roosevelt declared Dec. 7, 1941, "a date that which will live in infamy."

While the losses in our current campaigns will never come close to the tragedies of World War II, the strategic impact of the events are markedly similar.

We CANNOT let time dilute the pain, the loss, nor the significance of that day.

I'm touched by the fact that some of our own did their part in keeping this day at the forefront of our awareness.

A team of our star firefighters traveled to Nashville to participate in an annual tribute to their fallen colleagues of the NewYork Fire Department.

They were joined by more than 300 "patriots" who scaled the stairs of the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, marching up to the 110th floor in full gear.

I couldn't be more proud of their efforts.

You may have seen them prepping for the event ... the stairs in Mark I became their training site.

What a tremendous feat, inspiring tribute and model for us all.

In so many ways, this has become a "distant war" in our daily lives.

No draft. No rationing. No "war bonds."

It's as if it's not really affecting "business as usual."

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

There's nothing "usual" about tens of thousands deployed, many on their third or fourth rotation.

Nothing "usual" about 3,000 lost in action.

Nothing usual about our medical facilities overflowing with IED casualties.

There's nothing distant about this war to them, and we can't let it slip into our back burners either.

In his declaration of "Patriot Day," President Bush asked us all to stop, observe a moment of silence, reflect on the magnitude of that day and remember the sacrifices of all those who endeavor to keep the promise of "Never Again."

We don't need to wait for next year's anniversary to honor our colleagues. If Saturday came and went for you, please just take a moment today.

And help us all get ready for next year's events. Maybe some of us can "make the climb" with our firefighters or find a similar way to dignify the occasion.

Whatever you decide to do, I thank you.