San Diego Business Journal

Why We Fight: Remembering 9/11

The first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Everywhere you go, the memory of that tragic day has been commercialized , from quickie tabletop books sold at big box stores to FDNY and NYPD teddy bears sold at grocery store checkout counters. The media, including this newspaper, is not exempt from this fact.

Perhaps this is a uniquely American way of dealing with memories, even bad ones. Free enterprise, after all, is one of the hallmarks of American society. But in our rush to profit, let's not forget what really happened that day 12 months ago.

When the sun set on New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of spouses went to bed alone, never to feel the comfort of their loved ones again. Thousands of children went to their beds with a mother or a father missing, never to read them a bedtime story again.

When the sun set that day, our country had been shaken out its sense of shelter and security and shown it was vulnerable to the same violence that plagues so much of the rest of the world.

That night, Americans were made acutely aware , many for the first time in their lives , that there were more important things in life than material wants and desires, more than a generous bottom line, more than just themselves.

In the weeks and months that followed, thousands of families were torn apart as loved ones were mobilized or recalled to active duty to fight in Afghanistan or to stand watch over our homeland skies and shorelines. A year later, many of them remain separated from their families. Some will never return.

A year later, we need to do far more to honor those lost on 9/11 , and since , than paste flag decals on our car windows or buy patriotic teddy bears.

First we need to remember those lost in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and on the hijacked airliners were real men and women, some strong and brave, some weak and frightened. Let's honor them for what they were , human beings with all their strengths and frailties, not cuddly teddy bears or macho G.I. Joe dolls.

Let's remember those called away to defend our homeland and wreak vengeance on distant ground. Many of them are our neighbors, our co-workers, our employees. Let's remember the sacrifices they and their families are making for us.

Let's also remember that those who planned and carried out the attacks wanted nothing more than to shatter that which makes this country great , the constitutional freedoms we each enjoy.

This is not the time, nor is there a need, to dilute our personal freedoms. The failure to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks was in no way due to personal freedoms getting in the way of law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

The information to thwart the attacks was at hand; the ability to put the pieces together was not. That was a failure of bureaucracies, not civil liberties. Giving up our freedoms for a false sense of security would be handing our enemies their greatest victory.

So let us remember Sept. 11 this year with quiet prayers for those souls lost in the attacks, for those lost in battles since, for their suffering loved ones, and for those still going in harm's way.

And let us take a little time to remember the simple parchment that gives this country its greatness and angers our enemies most , the Constitution of the United States of America.

, Martin Hill