Eighteen years have passed since the horrific events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
As we are annually reminded, nearly 3,000 people were killed on that day as a result of terrorist actions on our soil. And, it is just and honorable to take a moment today, or any day, to think about those fading events. I say fading because that seems to be what is happening across our nation, and this brings both pain and confusion.
If one does not have a close connection through family ties or friendships in those fallen Americans (as well as the many other nationalities that were represented on the list of killed at the various terrorist attack locations), there seems to be a drift in our national psyche to forget both the fallen of 9/11 and the events themselves. Forget in order to ease the pain and confusion.
Now, there is no doubt there has been a rising crescendo of “terrorist” (home-grown, as well as from outside) tragedies in our country of late, but nothing, thank goodness, rivals the events of 9/11. Yet there is more to the story.
It has now been identified that nearly 40,000 Americans, who worked in the remnants of the 9/11 tragedy sites, are certified with serious health issues directly relating to their efforts to address the carnage of that collective event. And, within that rising number, nearly 10,000 have been diagnosed with cancers tied to the 9/11 events. In other words, 9/11 has not finished its deadly count! Americans are still suffering and dying as a result of that day, 18 years later!
We cannot sweep the events of 9/11 aside to be replaced by other, more current, actions that demand our time and attention. All these actions that have occurred since 9/11, and are still occurring, are changing our collective point of view regarding such tragedies. What is needed is a more conscious understanding of the linkages of events over time and a more holistic, or systemic, impact on our culture.
In James W. Loewen’s remarkable book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, 1995, he relates that: “Many African societies divide humans into three categories: those still alive on the earth, the sasha, and the zamani.
The recently departed whose time on earth overlapped with people still here are the sasha, the living-dead. They are not wholly dead, for they still live in the memories of the living, who can call them to mind, create their likeness in art, and bring them to life in anecdote.
When the last person to know an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the sasha for the zamani, the dead. As generalized ancestors, the zamani are not forgotten but revered. Many … can be recalled by name. But they are not the living-dead. There is a difference.”
Our culture has no such identifiable demarcation lines to ease our confusion and pain but we need them.
Editor’s note: Mr. Sisti is the American Legion Post No. 62 historian.
If you go
What: Flag raising memorial ceremony, all citizens are invited.
Where: American Legion Post, 9847 W. Desert Cove Ave.
When: 11 a.m. Sept. 11
Several schools in the Peoria Unified School District will pay tribute to the tragedy that took place Sept. 11, 2001, by holding commemorative events throughout the district. Events are on day of Sept. 11.
Apache Elementary School: 8633 W. John Cabot Road: 8:05 a.m.; Students in the fourth through eighth grades will assemble by the flagpole and 9/11 Memorial Stone and share a few words about the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Canyon Elementary School: 5490 W. Paradise Lane, Glendale: 8:20 a.m.; Canyon is holding a Hugs for Heroes breakfast., which will be held in the school’s cafeteria and is a tribute to those who serve.
Desert Harbor Elementary: 15585 N. 91st Ave., 8:30 a.m.; Police, fire and emergency workers are invited to the school for pastries, coffee and a musical performance. Honored guests will be escorted to take part in the “Walk of Honor,” where staff and students will recognize and honor their dedication to our community and country.
Frontier Elementary School: 21258 N. 81st Ave., 11 a.m.; annual Heroes Luncheon 11 a.m.-1 p.m. for firefighters, police officers, first responders and soldiers.
Lake Pleasant Elementary: 31501 N. Westland Road, 9:30 a.m., Students will hold a candle-lighting ceremony and share short video clips and performances to commemorate the day.
Peoria High School: 11200 N. 83rd Ave., 7:40 a.m., The AFJROTC Color Guard will raise the flag during the National Anthem and will lower it to half-staff.