Over the coming 12 months, Louisiana and the nation should be planning ahead for remembrances of Sept. 11, 2021. It will be the 20th anniversary of the horrific attacks on America in New York and Washington, D.C., by militant Islamic terrorists.
That is a bigger date than this year. Time passes and remembrances typically draw more attention on round numbers, like the 20th anniversary of this violence, or the 25th or the 50th. But for any Americans alive on the day that terrorism came so dramatically to our shores, who saw the falling of the World Trade Center towers, who experienced all the trauma, anger and sadness of that day, every anniversary counts.
Of the almost 3,000 victims in New York, many came from all the world, underlining that great city’s status as a global metropolis for trade and more.
The hijacked airliner that made it to the Pentagon in suburban Washington killed 184. Forty more died in Pennsylvania, where the airplane crashed after a heroic attack by passengers on the terrorists.
No one is more aware of that day than a Baton Rouge family whose son, Navy Lt. Michael Scott Lamana, worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. He was among those dying in service to their country.
There were other Louisiana victims, as of course there were people from many places. Maybe the 19th anniversary isn’t such a big deal, but maybe it ought to resonate particularly this year.
That so many foreigners — and yes, some were here illegally — were among those killed showed in the most intense manner possible that America is still a welcoming country, one that has a universal appeal of liberty and progress.
Maybe, in this year of intense political divisions and acrimonious debate about our alliances and commitments abroad, the spirit of 9/11 should be a guide toward more respect for that universal America.
Most of us remember the events of that day, but they were followed by a coming-together of Americans and our friends across the world. We need that today.
In a nation facing a serious public-health crisis, the men and women in uniforms — whether New York police, firemen, nurses or chaplains — rushed toward the fiery towers. More than 400 police and firefighters were killed.
We use the somewhat anodyne phrase “first-responders.” But those heroes gained the undying respect of the nation. Let us remember them, particularly in the acrimonious debate over police actions, for what is done wrong in public safety is balanced by what is done not only right every day, but heroically on that day.
The 20th anniversary is a big one. But each year, and maybe more than most this year, we need to keep those lessons close.