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A lot has changed since 9/11/01

I sat on the couch Sunday watching my grandkids play Mario Brothers on the Wii and noted the game hasn’t really changed that much over the years. The graphics are a bit cleaner and brighter but the music is the same as is the general idea – Mario and Luigi have to save the princess by doing a lot of jumping and avoiding turtles. At least I think they’re turtles.

My own children grew up playing the game as most did in the 1990s.

Watching them, I smiled. Even the arguments were the same. “That was my mushroom!”

So much has changed in the last 15 years, and yet, in many ways, much has remained the same.

When the terrorist attacks happened in 2001, my children were young but not young enough that they didn’t know something very bad was happening. Like most parents, I picked my children up early from school. I knew they were probably safe, living in a small town in Florida, but I just wanted them with me.

Like most people, I can tell you exactly where I was the moment I heard about the attacks and how I watched with horror as the second plane hit and then again, as the Twin Towers fell. The rest of the country, while safe from terrorists at the moment, were pained and hurting for those who lost their lives. We can’t forget. There’s no way we can forget. We won’t forget.

Some say the best way to deal with painful memories is to try to forget them and move on. But this wasn’t a broken heart or a bad day at work. This was our country under attack. It was also a time of great heroism my thousands of first responders who lost their lives that day. That shouldn’t be forgotten.

Still today, people are dying from cancer related to the attacks. They can’t forget and we shouldn’t forget.

The country named the day National Day of Service as it was decided the best way to honor the memory of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001, was for people to lend a helping hand in their community and to thank local fire responders for their service on a daily basis.

For those born after the attacks, they can’t remember. And as time goes on, when my children’s generation dies off, people will forget. The only way for that not to happen to make sure it’s a day etched into calendars for generations to come by a simple act of Congress making Sept. 11 a national day of remembrance.

The kind of day where people get the day off work and schools are closed and traditions are made to memorialize what happened. At some point, a child will ask why they don’t have to go to school and someone will have to explain why. The idea of community service should remain. Like the Fourth of July tradition of fireworks and picnics, Sept. 11 should have its own traditions, albeit more somber.

That’s how generations to come will continue to learn about Sept. 11 when those of alive at the time are long gone.

alyssa schnugg is city editor of the EAGLE. Write to her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com