By Brandi Makuski
Everybody older than 22 or 23 can tell you exactly where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.
The date needs no introduction. It is one marred by tragedy; one we watched unfold on live television, and with vivid and terrifying images seared into our memories. It’s a moment in time that feels just as painful today as it did 18 years ago.
For those of us old enough to remember life before 9/11, the date is a watershed moment. For most of us, life was simpler before the terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 people. But by mid-morning on Sept. 11, 2001, we realized we were living in a country that seemed suddenly so vulnerable, despite being raised to believe the opposite. In an instant, we knew what it was like to live in a world of fear and uncertainty.
But today we’re raising a new generation who doesn’t remember the 9/11 attacks. Most of our sons and daughters in high school today hadn’t been born yet. They comprise the first generation born after 9/11.
Much like the retelling of other national tragedies, like the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the burden falls on us to ensure today’s young people carry on the motto also born in the wake of 9/11: “Never Forget.”
Thanks to modern technology, virtually every moment of that day was captured by a news camera, a cell phone video, or the recording of a frantic call home from someone on one of four airplanes, or trapped in a burning building, who knew they were about to die. As hard as it is to relive, these are relics of an important time in our country’s history, and they should be shared with our children.
Something else that can be shared with our children is the 9/11 Memorial in Plover. A piece of steel from an I-beam that provided floor support in the World Trade Center has been on public display since 2011 when Lt. Ryan Fox of the Plover Police Department helped the village acquire the piece as a permanent memorial. Pieces of I-beams from the Twin Towers are also on display in Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield.
The 9/11 Memorial was re-dedicated in 2017 after a group of students from Ben Franklin Jr. High raised $10,000 to help refurbish the granite column holding the I-beam. The ceremony was widely attended, with dozens of visibly-moved young people in the crowd. Following the ceremony, the students, ages 12-14, read from the inscription on the memorial plaque:
Remember, freedom is never free. We must remain vigilant and be ready to stand up and fight for our freedom whenever necessary.”
The memorial is located in front of the Plover Municipal Center, 2400 Post Rd.