Never Forget But Also Learn
By David Henderson
I’ve seen various friends on Facebook today discussing their feelings about 9/11/2001 and some of their experiences that day. Some were close to Ground Zero; others had friends who were murdered; others, like me, were a few thousand miles away and knew only people who knew people who were murdered.
It’s hard to forget the sheer horror of that day. I made the mistake of watching the second plane go into the other World Trade Center building every time it was shown on TV—and, of course, that was multiple times. As a result, for the next few nights, I woke up out of awful nightmares in which I was on one of the hijacked airplanes.
I think the most horrible thing for me was watching people jump out of buildings to a certain death: their fear of being burned alive must have been overwhelming.
It’s important not to forget the horror of 9/11. It’s as important, and probably more important, to learn from it. If we in America can feel the horror of our fellow citizens (and, by the way, especially in New York, non-U.S. citizens) being murdered, even though the vast majority of them were strangers, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of people in other countries who are just as innocent but who are killed by governments. Sometimes those governments are their own; sometimes those governments are foreign governments and, at least occasionally, the U.S. government.
I think back to U.S. Army General Curtis Lemay and his fire-bombing of dozens of Japanese cities that were not primarily military targets during World War II. Or, even earlier, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his bombing raid in April 1942 on Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, Osaka, and Nagoya. The vast majority of people killed by those bombing raids were innocent civilians.
What I would like, as I noted above, is for Americans to learn from 9/11. It was a great teaching moment, and the chance was pretty much lost. But there’s no reason that we can’t still learn from it.