Can it be almost two years since unbelievable images of death and destruction in America dominated the world’s television screens?
Yes, on Sept. 11, 2003, it will have been 24 months since terrorists used airliners to strike the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field as heroic passengers fought the terrorists to keep it from striking yet another important target, perhaps the White House.
Undoubtedly Sept. 11, 2001, will stand with Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, as the most memorable dates for many Americans. In both infamous occurrences, thousands died — many without even knowing what was happening — while others sacrificed their lives to save total strangers or attempted daring rescues with no thought to personal safety.
After each attack, what began as tragedy was turned into yet another triumph of the American spirit. And days of such sacrifice and heroism never should be forgotten; instead they should be celebrated.
Clovis has celebrated heroes several times in the past two years — by forming a human flag at the high school last spring, and with a huge welcome-home celebration for deployed Cannon Air Force Base personnel earlier this summer, to name a few. We’ve also celebrated patriotism in hundreds and thousands of more subtle ways: with American flags in our yards and on our cars; with yellow ribbons on our clothing; with fund-raisers that have benefited firefighters and emergency workers across the country.
To that end, the city of Odessa, Texas, is planning “An American Tribute” this Sept. 11. Hundreds of volunteers will be needed to make the celebration a success.
The plan is to encircle a local lake with 3,412 large American flags, one for each victim of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The flags also will honor the firefighters, police officers, paramedics, emergency personnel and civilians who are “first responders” when disasters strike.
Odessa will be one of only six cities across the nation holding the tributes, said Mike Marshall, president of the city’s American State Bank.
The bank and city employees are seeking volunteers, first to assemble the 3×5-foot flags.
Then, other volunteers will be needed when the flags will be posted at the park on Sept. 10. As they are posted, names of those who lost their lives in the 9-11 tragedy will be read.
After the flags are in place, a candlelight vigil will begin at 8 p.m. on Sept. 10. On the next day — Sept. 11 — further commemoration of the events of 9-11 will be held and the flags then will fly in the park, with illumination at night, until being taken down on Sept. 14.
The plan sounds like a wonderful tribute to those who died and to those who stand ready to risk their lives so that others might live.
The second anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, will not receive as much attention as the first in most American cities. We’re glad to see a few are going to such great effort to make sure we never forget the horrors — or the heroics — of that day.