Remembering the events of 9/11 has changed throughout the years. What were once annual solemn, sad and poignant tributes to the fallen have slowly, over time, morphed into tension-filled political and religious events that inspire name calling and protesting. We're spending more time, or is it wasting more time, arguing over mosques and Quran-burning events than we are remembering that fateful day, honoring the emergency personnel who risked it all to save lives, and paying tribute to the thousands of Americans who lost their lives.
We have gone from mourning and reflecting to hating and bashing.
We're better than that.
The more time we spend on mosques and Qurans, conspiracies and politics, the less time we have to remember. It's bad enough we let a screwball from Florida grab the national spotlight; it's even worse he was able to harness that spotlight's energy during the week leading up to the nine-year anniversary of 9/11 and managed to hold onto it into the weekend.
It's OK to be sad on 9/11 anniversaries. It's OK to be mad, too, as long as that anger is directed at the right place. If you must hate someone, hate the people who hate us, the people who brought terror to America.
We must never forget how many people were killed on 9/11 - 2,819 - or how many days fires burned after the attack - 99 - or even how many tons of debris was removed from ground zero - 1,506,124. These are only numbers, but they put things in perspective as much as words can.
The Marshall Fire Department on Saturday honored the victims by sounding a siren on one of its trucks four times. A small gesture, but a strong one that reminded us of the most tragic day on American soil. Next year, Memorial Park in downtown Marshall should be completed and the official opening of the park will include the unveiling of a steel beam that came straight to Marshall from ground zero.
There will always be conspiracy debates - 9/11 was an inside job; there's no way airplanes can take down entire skyscrapers; a bomb was set off at the Pentagon; if a plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., where were the body parts - and those theorists will go to their graves believing the U.S. government was behind the attacks. To those people, we'll just say that's their opinion and if they want to dedicate themselves on discovering a different truth, more power to 'em.
But we also need to remind them not to lose sight of the sheer magnitude of 9/11, that how this country was changed in a matter of hours, and to remember that we still have troops overseas, fighting for a freedom that some people believe could be lost sometime in the future if we lose sight of what they're fighting for. If we do that than we, as a country, truly are lost.