September is a beautiful time of year as the weather typically starts to cool from the oppressive heat of the summer months. Spectacular blue skies are also a trademark of the season and there was none more memorable than the crystal blue sky the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I still remember thinking that as I drove to my office in North Jersey that morning. Annually, we acknowledge the events of that day on the anniversary, now known as Patriots Day.
We will do so again, with COVID distancing protocols in place, at the site of our 9/11 Memorial located on Main Street. The ceremony will commence at 6:30 p.m. and should last about 45 minutes. Traffic will be diverted from the Main and Church streets intersection during that time frame to allow for the required solitude of our ceremony. And we will stage things in a safe manner for those who choose to attend. We will also stream the ceremony Live on the Harrison Township Facebook Page, where the video will reside to be viewed afterward, if preferred.
Many of us all have a personal recollection of that moment when our country, our way of life, was attacked. Nineteen years later, we now have an entire generation of Americans who were not born yet, or they were too young to have a personal memory of the actual event. For them, Sept. 11, 2001, is like Pearl Harbor – something they read about or watch documentaries on. So, it now falls to us, the parents and grandparents, to shape the written and visual accounts of this historic episode for them and future generations.
As always, American resiliency has transformed evil or tragic events into something positive. The fanatical actions of that day are rooted in the perversion of a religion, with its deadly tentacles becoming a global threat in the years since 2001. But this has energized a rising national spirit here. Instead of a perpetual day of mourning, Sept. 11 is now known as Patriot Day and it symbolizes the courage, strength, and character of America. We honor the 3,000 people lost by understanding that 415 of them were first responders in uniform who ran into those burning buildings to save innocent victims. They ran into the towers. The pure gallantry of that is self-evident and jaw-dropping. We are inspired by the heroic actions of the passengers on United Flight 93 that can be summed up in the profound selflessness of two words: “Let’s Roll.” And we remember that with all its imperfections, America still stands as the beacon of freedom and benevolence to the world. We are like no other culture in human history and Sept. 11 is a day to show our patriotic pride in that distinction and recognize how fragile it is.