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The lessons of 9/11 are in danger of being forgotten 21 years later

It was 21 years ago, an eye blink in history. Yet for much of America, the lessons of 9/11 – those of unity, strength and love of country and each other – are willfully being forgotten.

Nearly 3,000 people were slaughtered by Islamic butchers on Sept 11, 2001, in the worst terror attacks ever perpetrated on humans. Yet the anniversary might have gone by virtually unnoticed.

The annual ceremony on Sunday in New York City commemorating that dark date – the powerful and chilling reading of the names of the dead – got little TV coverage, even in the towns from which so many of the victims commuted.

The networks failed to air it all live, using only snippets between breathless news updates about the death of the British queen.

Cable networks were similarly indifferent, awarding minimal coverage between Mucinex commercials.

Only New York 1, a channel that airs solely in New York’s five boroughs, aired it in full. Commentators on NewsMax consistently talked over the names as they were read, and even the moments of silence at the times each of the planes hit the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, the field in Shanksville, Pa., and when the skyscrapers collapsed. The channel cut away before it was over.

I watched the ceremony online. After a while, it appeared that Vice President Kamala Harris, who showed up at the start, was nowhere to be found.

Vice President Kamala Harris attending the 9/11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan on September 11, 2022.
Vice President Kamala Harris attending the 9/11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan on September 11, 2022.
REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

Many school districts are ensuring that future generations won’t know about the darkest chapter of US history. Only 14 states have mandated instruction on 9/11: Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and New York. Even governments in New Jersey and Connecticut, two states that lost a large number of people who came to work in New York’s fallen World Trade Center, have not seen fit to require that all school kids learn why some parents or grandparents failed to come home one day in September. Nor are there mandated 9/11 lessons in Pennsylvania, the state in which a downed jet crashed into a field, killing everyone aboard.

One of the first speakers at the ceremony honoring the fallen was palpably angry at the way the nation has fractured politically in the years since 9/11.

“It took a tragedy to unite us,” said the man, who identified himself as the cousin of a victim of the 1993 terror attack on the trade center. “And I want to remind all of you there it should not take another tragedy to unite our nation because if I have to stand at this podium again or another podium for another event because of lives lost because of dereliction of duty it’s gonna hurt just like it hurts me. … I’m gonna continue doing this until the day that I die and I am joined with my family up there.

“God bless America.”

Powerful words.

I just hope they were heard.

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