This week we remembered the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. As always, this was an emotional time for many. Sadness over those killed in the tragedy still leaves many with an emotional scar. At the same time, pride over the brave sacrifices and heroic efforts of first responders and regular, decent people leaves us filled with hope. The best of humanity and worst of humanity were on full display that day. The lives of millions have never been the same since then.
Yet, 17 years later, it is hard not to feel like the day comes and goes with less and less importance and meaning ascribed to it. People’s calls to “never forget” sadly seem more hollow.
This is why the time has come for state lawmakers and the governor to make September 11 an official state holiday.
The federal government calls 9/11 Patriot Day; in fact, the Queens Tribune’s founder, former Rep. Gary Ackerman, was one of the sponsors of a resolution in the House of Representatives in 2001 asking then-President George W. Bush to declare the day Patriot Day. Since then, former President Barack Obama added to the declaration, calling it Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. President Donald Trump changed the name again, to the National Days of Prayer and Remembrance and Patriot Day.
Whatever state leaders land on for a name is less important than actually taking the time to create a permanent remembrance, etched in state law. Sept. 11 shouldn’t be a day on which people go to work or school as they normally would. It shouldn’t be a day on which memorials and remembrances get squeezed in around people’s customary duties and responsibilities. It shouldn’t be a hassle to plan a fitting tribute on the actual date if it falls on a weekday, forcing many to hold weekend memorials instead.
Sept. 11 should be a day on which New Yorkers hit pause. Remember. Reflect. Tell their children and other young people about what happened and how it changed our society.
We may lose a day of productivity because of this, but it will be worth it. If we make this a state holiday, we will truly never forget.