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September 11: Let's NOT "Just Get Over It"


In some quarters, the current fashion seems to be a “just get over it” attitude about September 11. It’s been six years. We’ve moved on. Let’s talk about important stuff…. Britney Spears, anyone? Redskins mania? Will “The View” ever be the same?

Seems like we can talk forever about certain inconsequential ephemera, but decry as obsessive any expectation that we might devote even one day to thinking about the roots of terrorism, the horror of war, the evil consequences of hatred and prejudice, the catastrophe for all of civilization that arises from violence.

Let’s NOT just get over it.

Instead, let’s use this day to think seriously about what happens to all of us when a madman pulls the trigger. September 11 set into motion a series of catastrophic events all over the world, perhaps none so destructive as the war in Iraq. 3,000 innocent victims died at the hands of madmen on September 11, but as of today more than 4,000 coalition troops have died in Iraq, and nearly 30,000 are injured. But this tally does not begin to count the number of Iraqis killed and injured, a number we may never know.

September 11 had the effect of forcing the United States to abandon its leadership for peace and prosperity around the world. Instead, today, the United States is sadly reviled in too many places for fostering war and violence itself as revenge for that terrible day.

Good people of all political persuasions are now deeply engaged in a profoundly serious debate about where we go from here, how to end the war, whether we can ever be truly secure when Osama bin Laden and his associates are still at-large (with, apparently, enough time on his hands to do a cosmetic do-over). We still don’t seem to understand that evil survives individuals, and this struggle should be less about capturing one figurehead and more about standing up for what is morally right for all humanity in the face of great provocation.

September 11 forced all civilized people on this planet to confront the question of how to ensure security without completely abandoning hard-won freedoms. We’re still debating the balance.

September 11 changed American politics dramatically, and as in 2004, the legacy of that day will most certainly influence the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.

With so many serious issues embodied in the phrase “September 11” how can any serious person say we should just get over it? How we choose to organize our society, how we choose to live — in freedom or fear, in a climate of utmost security or openness to risk — who we choose to lead our nation and what tactics we support to confront the terrorism that will remain with us for many generations — all of these are issues that surely demand our attention, today and every day.

And, of course, we must remember those who went to work that morning never to return. Is it asking too much to remember them for at least one day each year?

Tonight, at 7:30 pm, with the leadership of a student Allyson Portee, the Trinity community is welcome to join us out by the flagpole on the front lawn for a service of prayer and remembrance. If you can’t join us then, please take a few minutes today or this week to reflect on this day and these issues. Please share your ideas with me about future programs we might organize to enlarge the conversation on campus about peace and justice and the future of the global village we share.

Link to Washington Post coverage of September 11

Link to New York Times coverage of September 11

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: