Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
and her people blown away.
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell.
— Darryl Worley, Have You Forgotten lyrics, 2003
Ten years. I’m too old for many things but I’m not old enough to have been watching the TV when President Kennedy was assassinated, the night that Bobby Kennedy was shot or the day that Elvis died. Anyone who witnessed these events clearly remembers exactly where they were when it happened, when their ordinary lives were rocked by “unheard of” news, consuming them with extraordinary sadness. I remember exactly where I was on the morning of September 11, 2001, the epitome of “unheard of” tragedies, stunned and watching as the death toll climbed throughout the morning, adding the heroes in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon public servants to the list of innocent casualties. At the risk of being politically incorrect, I side with Worley and those who were angered when the footage of 9/11 was deemed too disturbing to watch so media moguls spliced it out of the coverage. I think it should be aired regularly as a daily reminder that freedom isn’t free, particularly for those of us who are not old enough to have experienced the horrors, sacrifices and grief of war first hand, particularly as we enjoy liberty in our Lazy Boys watching the ball game or checking our Facebook pages.
For example, 9,933,702 people “Like” the Facebook page for a game called Bejeweled Blitz; only 154 “Like” the page for Maywood Bataan Day, launched by Col. Richard A. McMahon, Jr., dedicated to the men of the 192nd Tank Battalion in World War II, victims and survivors of the Philippine Death March, POW camps and Hell Ships, many of them born and raised in Chicago and the suburbs, like Maywood. Commemorated on the second Sunday each September, Bataan Day will fall on September 11 this year. Of those who have already forgotten 9/11, how many will attend and celebrate the courageous lives and the brutal deaths of starved and tortured men we never knew? For more about Bataan Day and this year’s program, visit the Facebook page or www.mbdo.org and, perhaps, even express your gratitude or expose your children to true bravery and patriotism. As Shakespeare wrote, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.”
Eckhart Tolle said, “Whenever anything negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it, although you may not see it at the time.” Death is not a popular subject but I learned so much from death and Hillside Mayor Joe Tamburino back in 2004 that it earned me a Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism for sharing my story “Etched In Stone.”
Mayor Tamburino will lead the 9th annual Cemetery Tour on Saturday, October 1st, visiting Queen of Heaven and Mount Carmel Cemeteries, their unique tributes to our military, historical grave sites and the never-open-to-the-public Bishop’s Mausoleum. Space is limited; call 708-202-4343 for details.
We remember so many trivial, unimportant things. The mental clutter is unbelievable. Maybe we can find the time to add these events to the things we remember for the rest of our lives.