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9/11 and gradual return to normalcy

I heard several different reactions after asking if those with Sept. 11 birthdays or anniversaries have noticed a gradual return to normalcy when it comes to that unforgettable date.

A couple of readers were angry that I even suggested this might be possible. Perhaps they didn't really understand what I was asking. Or maybe they were simply wrapped up in being competitive grievers.

Some, such as Cindie Webb, said it remains a day of conflicted emotions. "My dad's birthday is Sept. 11. It's a day of mixed feelings. I'm glad my dad is celebrating another year but sad for those who never got a chance to celebrate another birthday."

Then there was this from Nancy Engard.

"Yes, thankfully having our anniversary on September 11th has become more normal again. My husband, Jim Shaules, and I will be celebrating our 30th this Tuesday. …We certainly will never forget the victims of 9/11 but we can (and will) celebrate OUR day."

9/11 memorial events

Spokane Valley Fire Marshall Kevin Miller looks at a 1,200-pound steel girder that was recovered from one of the towers at the World Trade Center. File photo/J. Bart Rayniak

There are several Sept. 11 memorial events planned in Spokane Valley on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The first is at 6:40 a.m. at the Spokane Valley Fire Department administration building (next to Station 8) at 2110 N. Wilbur Road. During the ceremony a piece of steel beam from the Towers will be installed in the building, which is under construction.

In the afternoon Valley Fire will be among those participating in a memorial ceremony at the Spokane Interstate Fair at 1:30 p.m. A procession will begin at the main gate and head into the grandstand area for the ceremony. You will have to pay to get into the Fair at Broadway and Havana but there won't be a charge to get into the grandstand for the event.

If you are looking for a more spiritual event, four Valley churches will host a memorial service at 4 p.m. Sunday at Zion Lutheran Church, 8304 E. Buckeye. The pastors of Millwood Presbyterian Church, New Hope Bible Church and St. Mary's Catholic Church will help lead the service.

9/12 reflections

Fridays are usually hectic on the opinion pages, mostly because we’re producing three days worth of pages rather than just one. Yesterday had the added challenge of responding to a wave of phone and e-mail messages from readers who were distressed that the Sept. 11 paper contained not a word about the historical significance of the date. There were all the signals of an orchestrated response programmed for launch as soon as the paper hit the porch.  People weren’t saying that the coverage was insufficient, or that it was tilted in the wrong direction. They were saying consistently and repeatedly that there was not a word about 9/11 in Friday’s Spokesman-Review.

Yet there on the front page, complete with two photographs, was a story about Coeur d’Alene’s Fallen Heroes memorial, to be dedicated that evening, a tribute to not only the victims of the terrorist attack eight years ago but also to local police and firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty.  The story clearly and movingly pointed out that this lasting memorial was inspired by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.

Somehow, the people I responded to just couldn’t make that connection.  What I considered a timely and relevant account of how part of our community has responded — is responding still — to an iconic event, they saw as an evasion of our duty to fan the flames of resentment and hatred. Not that those aren’t appropriate emotions for the outrage perpetrated by the mostly Saudi Arabian terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks, but news is all about reporting what’s happening now in the context of what happened before.  The protests we received seemed to be all about freeze-framing a day eight years earlier.

I’m in no position to psychoanalyze the people I communicated with, but I suspect their interest has less to do with honoring the victims than with fueling their hatred of the perpetrators — and maybe others who weren’t perpetrators but happen to have certain traits (religion, ethnicity, ideology) with them.

I wonder if the people of Dresden, Germany, still harbor such feelings toward the Allies’ senseless fire-bombing of their city in World War II.


Commemorating Sept. 11 with volunteer service to communities

Everyone’s deeply aware of the significance of today, the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In commemoration, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signed a proclamation this morning recognizing Sept. 11 as a day of service and remembrance; today is the first official, national “Day of Service and Remembrance” established by the president and Congress to  “honor the sacrifices of 9/11 heroes, and engage more Americans in serving their communities.”

Said Otter, “One of the best measures of our character as a community, and our civic virtue as individuals, is the degree to which we are willing to reach out to our neighbors in time of need. Idaho is richly endowed with citizens who put their good will into action through volunteerism and service. This is a day to recognize them, and that ability in all of us.”

The Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, along with several other organizations, is encouraging Idahoans to volunteer in their community in commemoration today, and continue their volunteer efforts throughout the year. Click below to read the governor’s full proclamation.