I was walking into the Worldwide Headquarters on Friday and I was confronted with a bit of an unusual scene. There were two ladder trucks from local friendly fire departments with their ladders extended way up in the air, and there was a gigantic American flag strung between them. On the ground there was a podium and sound system set up near the front entrance, and there were all sorts of folding chairs set up all around. All of this equipment was set up in order to have a September Eleventh remembrance ceremony, and it got me to thinking about the status of this momentous event on the tenth anniversary of its occurrence.
The question that popped into my head on that cool late-summer morning was as follows: Will we still commemorating this event ten, twenty, thirty years into the future? I reflected on the fact that we were doing this because we were still somewhat fresh from this horrific event, and that for most of the people who would be filling those seats in just a couple of hours that was the biggest historic event in their lifetime, at least so far. Much like the bombing of Pearl Harbor was the singular major event of our grandparents' generation, or the moon landing was the major even of our parents'. But do we still honor those events today? How does the 9/11 bombings stack up?
I suppose that the most obvious comparison would be with the attack on Pearl Harbor. That occurred seventy years ago this upcoming December, and while there are still many memorials to the War that Pearl Harbor began (at least officially for us) there aren't a ton around the country to the event itself. There is still a ceremony every year on the top of the remains of the USS Arizona, which is sinking, to commemorate the event. But I think that it gets smaller and smaller every year as the survivors die off. Is that the fate of the 9/11 ceremonies? I know that they happen all around the country and I wonder how long they will survive. I wonder how many chairs will be set up in front of the Worldwide Headquarters in another ten years - there are about two dozen sitting out there right now. What about twenty, thirty, fifty years from now? Those are the thoughts that are in my head as I think about this day, and the anniversary that is coming up. Not of the past, which is certainly important, but of the people who died and were so brave in response, and of the future and how we will remember it. Make sure to take a couple of minutes to remember it today.