A personal memorial for Patriot Day
There are certain images that have been burned into the American psyche. Included in that are pictures of the USS Arizona as it slides to the bottom of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941; the flag raising by U.S. Marines on Mount Suribachi; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; Neil Armstrong's footprint on the moon; and the image of John-John as he salutes his father's coffin outside of St. Mathews on Rhode Island Avenue in our nation's capital.
Nineteen years ago this Friday, we added yet another image.
We will always remember exactly where we were when we heard the word of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We were literally hypnotized by the television images of the Twin Towers collapsing and the heart of our nation's military in flames. We also wept when Flight 93 crashed in the quiet foothills of western Pennsylvania, a heroic sacrifice by those on board to prevent yet another assault on America.
For many years since then, that tragic Tuesday has been remembered at the flag pole in Forest Grove, with a service prepared by Forest Grove Fire & Rescue. This year, with the pandemic limiting social gathering, such a memorial is out of the question. Rather, it is for us to pause individually on this Friday to remember.
What we need to remember now is to hold in our thoughts and our prayers is the sacrifice of those who perished. The passengers and crews on the planes, those in the buildings that were destroyed or severely damaged, and those public safety servants who, while others were fleeing the flames and wreckage, were running towards the maelstrom. We cannot afford to forget, even for a moment, those who, still today, are battling disease and sickness brought on by their heroism on that sunny September Tuesday.
On a personal note, this Friday is my 74th birthday. Ever since 2001, my natal day has been co-opted. It is no longer a day of celebration marking yet another trip around the sun; rather, it is a day of reflection, a day of remembrance and a day of commitment. For, if we are to mean it when we ask others to pause and remember, then we must truly celebrate that we are: "...one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."
If we believe that, then let's act like it.
Pete Truax is mayor of Forest Grove.
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