We’ve moved forward but not on.
Wednesday marks the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this era’s date in infamy, forever branded into our national consciousness.
Two hijacked airliners slammed into the Twin Towers, destroying them. Another dived into a side of the Pentagon. A possible fourth attack was averted by the bravery of Flight 93 passengers and crew members, who tried to take back the plane, leading to a crash in a Shanksville field that killed all aboard.
Almost 3,000 people died from the attacks, including Walker Township resident Lt. Jonas Panik at the Pentagon, and several Penn State alumni. Over the next decade, thousands more followed in two drawn-out and inconclusive wars triggered by the day.
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This is not a milestone anniversary, a neat five or 10 years, but we must honor them with no less sincerity.
By now, the day’s tragedy and trauma are beginning to recede into a past dimly recalled by most of today’s high school students.
One World Trade Center now rises gleaming from the former ground zero pit, set to open within a year with a commemorative museum.
At Shanksville, in Somerset County, a $40 million fundraising campaign to expand the Flight 93 National Memorial at the crash site ended this week after 110,000 people as well as foundations and corporations contributed.
This week saw groundbreaking begin for a 6,800-square-foot visitor center for the memorial honoring the 33 passengers and seven crew members.
These are positive, some might say overdue, steps toward national healing. But gaping holes remain, holes that can never be filled.
There’s no rebuilding for the families of the slain — only remembrance.
And so, on Sept. 11, we remember with them.
At 9:37 a.m., the time of the Pentagon attack, a moment of silence will be held at Arlington National Cemetery for Panik and 183 other victims.
At 10:03 a.m., when Flight 93 crashed, the names of the passengers and crew members will be read at the memorial.
At noon on the Old Main patio at Penn State, the College Republicans will lead a nonpartisan commemoration for all lost in a single, horrifying day.
And at 7:30 p.m. at the State Theatre, “The New Normal,” a theatrical response to 9/11, will honor the dead and the living left to carry on. Written by theater director Richard Biever and first performed in Boston in the winter of 2001, the production combines Broadway music and spiritual messages from around the world.
They’re among the many 9/11 events scheduled nationwide.
A lot of us will go about our days without attending one. Unlike for the early anniversaries, when emotions and memories were still raw, we’re pausing our lives for a day less and less with each passing year.
While maybe inevitable, that doesn’t give us a free pass to ignore the day. We can’t forget because almost 3,000 families can’t. No sparkling office tower or poignant memorial will bring back their loved ones.
We owe it to 9/11’s survivors to always remember, even with just a prayer or personal moment of silence, whether it’s the 12th, 37th or 62nd anniversary.
Time moves on.