Special E-Lines Edition, Always Remember, and Never Forget!
September 10, 2019
Today is a sacred, but somber day. Many of us will be attending September 11 Memorial Ceremonies where we will remember and honor our flying partners, friends, family and loved ones who were lost on that day eighteen years ago. We will stand together in solidarity to reaffirm the promise we made to "Always Remember, and Never Forget.” This phrase, revered by all those affected by the September 11, 2001 events, has been communicated in a variety of ways, in an uncountable number of times over the past 18 years. It's been engraved in plaques, printed on banners and discussed in the media. It's been posted, tweeted, and emailed. And, it is said every year at memorial sites and ceremonies across our nation during which we remember those who were lost as well as those who loved them.
Use of the phrase, "Always Remember and Never Forget” has become so prevalent in our culture that it feels, at times, as if the meaning of these words has become lost in the background. As time progresses and we move further from the day on which so many lives were lost, some might even feel as though those words have lost the powerful meaning and commitment they once held. Others may feel as if these words have become the lingual equivalent of a statue memorializing some historical event: important, certainly, but also grey, and static, and lifeless, as if an object you barely register out of the corner of your eye as you walk past it. These are among the reasons we keep our commitment and continue to gather together every year at Memorial ceremonies across the nation to rejuvenate those words, not only in our hearts, but in action.
On this hallowed site, we stand together not just to recite the words "Always Remember," but to actually Remember. We are not attending to just say "Never Forget," but to truly reflect upon the events of September 11th, 2001, and the ways in which the events of that day indelibly changed our world, our country, our lives, and our hearts and put a unique meaning into the words, “Always Remember and Never Forget.”
We’re all deeply familiar with the horrific acts carried out that day. Terrorists hijacked four commercial aircraft; United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11 were ruthlessly flown into the World Trade Center in New York City, while a third aircraft, American Airlines Flight 77 was targeted into the United States Pentagon. The passengers and crew of the fourth hijacked aircraft, United Flight 93, displayed indescribable heroism and sacrifice, as they selflessly prevented Flight 93 from being used to further the outlandish attacks against America. It was the heroes onboard Flight 93 that thwarted the hijackers from reaching their intended target. And although it is impossible to say just how many lives were saved by the choices made by those aboard Flight 93 that day, it will forever be remembered in history as the true definition of heroism. Flight 93 perished in an empty field, the final resting place. May we continue to carry in our hearts the memory of every crewmember, passenger, and all those that perished in the Twin Towers and Pentagon, never to be forgotten.
September 11th, 2001 marks the date of the single greatest tragedy in modern American history, however we are not exclusively here to ruminate on the pain and tragedy that we experienced on September 11th, or the profound absence of our flying partners, friends, and family members whose lives were taken. We are also here to honor the heroism that was displayed across our great nation. Our Crews, First responders, Police Officers, Firefighters, Rescue Workers, Volunteers and the businessman who ran back into the tower to grab the hand of a colleague, as the towers were collapsing before their eyes. While the pain of losing those we loved may never completely fade, that pain is accompanied by an immense sense of pride. Pride that in the face of the ultimate sacrifice, those brave souls still took a stand and fought to defend others. They weren't soldiers who took to a battlefield, but ordinary people who boarded an ordinary commercial flight. Ordinary people working their ordinary jobs. And in spite of that, each of these people displayed a degree of courage and valor far beyond anything expected of them. Over the years beautiful memorial sites have been constructed and it is wonderful that so many take time out of their lives, year after year, to attend these September 11 ceremonies. However, I believe the true memorial site is not around us, but within us, and that the best way to truly honor the memories of those whose lives were lost is to follow the example they set, and strive to act with the same integrity and courage they demonstrated on September 11, 2001.
In Solidarity,Ken Diaz
Association of Flight Attendants