The Daily Gamecock

Column: Why we must never forget

A couple stands before the National September 11 Memorial, marking the site of the south tower at the World Trade Center in New York, on September 8, 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
A couple stands before the National September 11 Memorial, marking the site of the south tower at the World Trade Center in New York, on September 8, 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Saturday will be the twentieth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and there are many opportunities in Columbia to pay respect to and honor those affected by the events. This is essential to understanding how the trauma of 9/11 continues to impact us today.

On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners which crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The fourth plane, which was headed for D.C., crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

As a result of this attack, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed, including 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers

In the aftermath of the deadliest terrorist attack in American history, President George W. Bush declared a “War on Terror,” sending American troops into Afghanistan, then to Iraq two years later in 2003. 

Our country was in great distress following these attacks; however, Americans came together and united in grief to honor these victims. In doing so, they did what was most important – honoring the memory of those who were killed on that horrible day. Doing so is not just a choice, but an obligation. 

It is just as important to commemorate the day twenty years later as it was in the weeks immediately following the attack. We must remember those who fought for our freedoms and continue to do so today. 

Although Columbia, South Carolina may seem far from the physical locations of the attacks, those who wish to commemorate the day have a selection of events to choose from in order to pay their respects.

Located just outside of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, the 9/11 & First Responders monument, consisting of two steel beam towers from the South Tower, stands alongside another memorial modeled after the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance and honors South Carolina's first responders killed in duty. 

At these two memorials, a ceremony will take place on the anniversary starting at 8:00 a.m. 

The Tunnel to Tower 5K is a walk/run meant to commemorate the heroic efforts of first responders at the World Trade Center, will also be held at the Convention Center on Friday, Sept.10 at 7:00 p.m. Both events are easily accessible to the Columbia community.

The Kabul airport attack that resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members has rehashed old wounds and shaken this country to its core yet again. Now more than ever, Americans need to unite as they did two decades ago to honor the lives that were lost on and since that tragic day. 

Whether you’re a student, faculty member or Columbia resident, take time out of your Saturday this coming Sept. 11 to commemorate the anniversary. 

Participate in the Tunnel to Tower 5K the night before, attend the memorial ceremony at the Convention Center or simply observe the monument at any point. Thank a first responder or law enforcement officer if you cross paths with them. Tune into the 20th Anniversary Commemoration at the Memorial Plaza in New York City, where family members of victims will observe six moments of silence and read aloud the names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks and the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. 

The Sept. 11 attacks continue to impact the world to this day, and it is very easy to become caught up in the craziness of all the chaos that has since ensued.  Nevertheless we must strive as Americans to take the time to honor those whose lives were lost and to never forget.