Honor Heroes EVERYDAY…Not Just Years Ending Zero

Take a deep breath America…don’t panic…it’s not the end of the world.

There’s a lot of upset people in the country tonight because of news reports that are saying the first responders to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 haven’t been invited to the ceremonies.

I got bad news for you. That’s nothing new. That’s old news. Actually, they’ve never been invited to any of the previous – major — ceremonies held to commemorate the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor.

Surprised? Don’t be. Except for the few exceptions, most of the “first responders” don’t want public recognition for the heroics they and their comrades performed that day. They want the right, the priviledge, to remember those terrible hours with friends and comrades who were there.

I have a friend in Asheville – Al — who is a retired firefighter from NYC. He was a “first responder” that September day in New York City and he’s the one that told me that “first responders” were not invited to earlier commemorations. When he saw the look of surprise and shock on my face, he said, “9/11 isn’t about us. It’s about the people that were lost. The families who lost husbands and wives, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. It’s their day. Let them have it”.

It’s amazing to me how no one in the country got their knickers in a twist over the past nine “non-invites”. So why now. Well, it’s the tenth anniversary. For some reason we tend to make a big deal out of anniversaries that are nice neat rounded off numbers. A couple celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary and has a big party. Nothing wrong with that. But why not celebrate their 51st anniversary in the same way? It’s a year longer that they’ve been married…but it’s not a nice, neat round little number.

Look at any other celebrations and you’ll see the same pattern holding true. On anniversary dates that end in zero, all the stops are pulled out. Every cake has a candle. Fireworks are lit. The list goes on. Need further evidence?

Remember when the “end of the millennium” occurred? Everyone sat breathlessly watching as the calendar rolled over from 1999 to 2000. Kind of like watching the odometer on your car go from 9,999 to 10,000. But what most people didn’t notice – or care about – was the fact that the millennium didn’t end until December 31st, 2001. But then 2001 is not a nice, easy, convenient number.

So what’s my point? We should be remembering the “first responders” every day of the year…not just because it’s the tenth anniversary. Seems to me like too many Americans have forgotten there are things going on in the world outside their little yuppie, boxed in life.

We get fat. We get comfortable. We go about our lives each day as though we don’t have combat troops fighting and dying in Afganistan. We forget we’re in a war and – unless we have a close friend or a family member – we don’t think about it until it pops up on the evening news as we’re sitting in our comfortable homes pigging out on food that’s bad for us anyway.

So you want to do something to honor the “first responders”. Do what my friend Al suggests. Buy a homeless person a burger. Read a story to a kid in school. Volunteer an hour a week to help someone out. Passing on the giving attitude will honor the “first responders” more than just inviting them to a ceremony in NYC.

And oh, by the way. U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001.

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