Like many Americans that day, I didn’t have to see the plume of smoke at the Pentagon to mourn those who were lost or hear the sickening rumble of the towers crashing down to be angry at how my country was attacked.
I didn’t know the heroes of Flight 93 but I still get choked up when I see the words, “Lets Roll.”
September 11th was an attack on all Americans and that’s why a fitting commemoration of our mutual resolve to never forget those who gave their lives that day would be to preserve September 11th on our calendar as a national holiday.
Pearl Harbor Day is a good example of just why we should preserve September 11th as a day of remembrance. December 7, 1941 launched our nation into a Second World War; cost the lives of over 2,400 American servicemen and in the words of President Roosevelt, “lived in infamy”.
Yet two generations later, the importance of December 7 risks permanently fading into little more than a footnote for those who didn’t live through the experience. Though the idea seems preposterous now, with our memories of that day still vivid, we run the same risk with September 11, unless an effort is undertaken to preserve it for future generations.
In the years following the 9/11 attack, Congress has taken care to mark the day with moments of silence and resolutions. But those proclamations, while important, rarely gain the awareness of everyday Americans. By exercising their authority to enshrine September 11th in the small handful of days designated as a federal holiday, Congress would evoke the same sort of unity evidenced by Congress as the afternoon of the attacks when both parties gathered on the steps of the Capitol to sing “God Bless America”.
Surely this effort will inspire the cynics to suggest that commemorating September 11 will eventually relegate it to another day of barbecues and baseball games, with only passing regard given to the heroes of that day.
Yet in a deeper sense there can be no greater response to an attack that was launched at our very way of life than to celebrate the institutions, gatherings and freedoms that drove our enemies to violence.
September 11 has forever changed our nation – one need only try to pass through security at a major airport to realize that. However, the events of that day deserve to be remembered in something greater than modern inconveniences, the memories of a generation that will fade over time or run of the mill ceremonies in Washington.
A national holiday is the only proper way to remember the sacrifices of our heroes their penchant for heroism at a moment’s notice. Let’s roll.
Joe Brettell is a Republican Consultant. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.
Joe Brettell is a former Capitol Hill Communications Director and currently a strategist with FleishmanHillard Public Affairs. Follow him on Twitter@joebrettell.