Fifteen years ago a generation experienced its Pearl Harbor or Kennedy moment, a moment that changed our history and still shapes our national agenda and personal behavior. How we travel, how we act, how we think all changed early on Sept. 11, 2001.
There are veterans among us with damaged bodies and minds linked to that moment. It created a new awareness and appreciation for the first responders upon whom we rely for our personal safety. That we turned this dark day into a day of public service as well as a day to honor those people who protect us abroad and at home speaks to our nation’s character.
For the past several years our community has seen a 35-foot, 3-inch rusted steel girder resting on a flatbed trailer. Fifteen years ago it was ripped from the skeleton of the World Trade Center by the impact of two passenger airliners and the resulting fire that crumbled the twin towers and ended 2,606 lives.
On Thursday workers placed the 7,100-pound artifact on the twin columns intended to be its permanent resting place. As the workers attached the beam, the skies opened up and drenched them. They worked on.
Today at 2 p.m. we see the dedication of that memorial filled with symbolism. The 2,606 who died in the twin towers, the 125 at the Pentagon, the 265 on the four crashed passenger planes are all remembered by the September 11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois at the intersection of Illinois 159 and Illinois 15 in Belleville.
Coming out for the ceremony would be a fitting way to mark the day. Donating towards the cost of the memorial would be another.
Perhaps the best would be to reflect on how others have taken this day from the terrorists and turned it into something better. Find your contribution to our national character.