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Remembering 911
Michael R. Sweeny, Lawrence Planning Director

In the September 2nd edition of the New York Times, writer N.R. Kleinfield wonders if the remembrances, tributes and honoring of the dead from September 11th, 2001 has gone too far. He seems pained not by the senseless murder of over 2,000 people, but by the fact that six years later, people all over the world will stop and remember the tragic events of that day. As a nation we will pause and remember the lives lost, the dreams that were ended and the terrible pain and horror endured by hundreds of people trapped in the World Trade Centers.

We will, but apparently not the New York Times or N.R. Kleinfield. Instead Kleinfield believes that the nation is “fatigued” by the ceremonies that occurred to remember those murdered on September 11th, 2001. The first I heard of this ‘national fatigue’ with the events that occurred on September 11th was in this New York Times column. Always on the cutting edge of bashing America and anything associated with the ideals this country was built upon, the New York Times and Kleinfield have apparently found that honoring the dead from Sept 11th to be too much of burden.

What the New York Times and Kleinfield cannot comprehend and certainly cannot honor, is the sacrifice made that day by men and women, ordinary people, most American citizens, some from other countries, all of whom were exercising their individual freedoms through the engagement of their various professions or by freely traveling across this country. Many on the planes that day, including infants and children, were on their way home, or to visit loved ones in another part of the country. American, Israeli, British, Mexican or Russian it did not matter. They were each murdered, many making desperate phone calls to 911 or to loved ones. Many leaving messages expressing their love or their regrets into the answering machines of family members who will forever treasure those tapes. So many everyday people, fighting against fire, heat, broken bones, horror and the unknown to help others who were hurt and dying.

On the ground in NYC hundreds of firefighters, police officers and EMTs ran into the gates of hell to help. Hundreds of these public safety officials would die in the Towers. Scores of children lost their fathers or mothers that day. Heroes were made, legends were created and America and the world learn anew why freedom is never free or easy. We learned again that only by facing hard realities and ugly truths can we preserve a way of life that allows people to make individual choices about how we conduct ourselves in our personal lives, in our expressions of religious faith, in the choices we make regarding our education and career choices and how we decide to honor those who died protecting our way of life.

But it has been six years and the New York Times and N.R. Kleinfield have grow weary with the burden of living and taking a moment to remember. How sad, pitiful and empty they are.

On September 11th this year you need only take a personal, private moment to re-member those who were murdered and the sacrifices they made on that day. Perhaps it will be another beautiful, perfect weather day this coming Tuesday the 11th, just as it was in 2001. We should all continue to move forward and live our lives and em-brace new friends and new opportunities and cherish those we love. But please, do not forget those who died on September 11th, 2001.

Michael Sweeney is the planning director for the city of Lawrence, a former member of the Lawrence City Council and School Committee.  You can e-mail Mr. Sweeney at Esqsweeney@aol.com.

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The September 2007 Edition of the Valley Patriot
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