Forget Not

Randy Grider
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It’s Sept. 11, 2003. As I sit down to write, it’s just a few minutes after the exact time the first plane struck the World Trade Center. I originally had intended another topic for this column, but the reminders of that terrible day are too hard to shake.

What have we learned from the tragedy?

Obviously, we all found out that we are vulnerable to anyone with enough determination to attack us. But to be honest, if we studied our own history, we should have known this anyway.
We were reminded who we could really count upon when the going gets tough – police, firefighters, ordinary citizens put in extraordinary situations and our nation’s truck drivers, many of whom turned their rigs toward New York and Washington to volunteer in whatever way they could.

We found a way to unite as a people – patriotism unlike anything we’ve seen since Pearl Harbor.

There are some obvious changes in security at airports, some loading docks and ports-of-entry. Trucking is seeing some additional measures being proposed – background checks for those hauling hazardous materials, a national ID card for drivers and better training as to what to look for in suspicious activity while on the highways.

But overall, things are back to pre-9-11 norms in many people’s lives. In one way, that is great because many of us probably wondered if life would ever be the same again. People go about their lives – wake up, go to work, watch their children play and plan for the future. Many politicians are back to making personal attacks instead of looking for workable, sensible solutions. But, with each passing day, we edge toward complacency.

We all embraced normalcy when it slowly crept back into our lives. But it’s dangerous to become too comfortable with our daily grind. For whatever reasons, there are fanatics out there who would like to build upon the chaos of 9-11. And there’s a good chance they’ll try again.

Personally, I’m still mad. There are at least 3,016 reasons to justify anger toward all the terrorists who were responsible for what happened in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a remote field near Shanksville, Pa. There may be a time to forgive and forget, but that’s a long way down the road. Until all those who are set on destroying innocent people for the simple purpose of wreacking havoc and terrorizing are eliminated as a threat, I believe controlled anger is a good motivator.

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There is a great deal of emphasis put on airlines for the next attack because of 9-11. But many feel a tractor-trailer could be just as destructive, or even more so, than a jet airplane. And there’s precedent for such worries. Just look at the damage caused by the rental truck used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Trucks have also been used in recent terrorist attacks on foreign soil.

We’ve all heard this before, but watching the news clips of 9-11 shows how far terrorists will go. Some of the major media have chosen not to show the most disturbing scenes of 9-11 except during anniversary specials. I hope networks never decide to completely stop showing segments of the tragedy. It’s a shocking reminder of what could happen again if we don’t stay vigilant.

I also believe these scenes should be shown before major political debates on terrorism and war. The horror of 9-11 might keep politicians focused on the problem instead of acting like spoiled children.

Some people have drawn parallels between homeland security measures involving individual vigilance and McCarthyism. I don’t buy it. If someone is truly doing something suspicious like lurking around a delivery area after hours or appearing out of place in a rest area, then report it. It’s better to be overcautious than to regret not saying anything after a tragedy has happened.

Yes, while it’s time to move on, let’s do so with determination to never become so complacent again. Keep your eyes on the future, but don’t forget the dangerous road that has brought you to where you are now.