In the shadow of the 15th anniversary of 9/11, maybe what we need to remember is there is a difference between not forgetting a tragic event and reliving it.
Whether you were glued to the television watching the scene unfold in New York City Sept. 11, 2001, or reading about the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on a very slow computer server, it would be hard to forget the devastation of that day.
Every television news agency had eyes on the World Trade Center, live streaming the aftermath of American Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower and giving us a front row seat to United Flight 175 slicing through the South Tower, like the reinforced steel columns of the building were made of paper.
And, because updates were slow to come and television stations chose to stay with what we later learned was the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, we got to see it again, and again and again.
For a week or more, any news about the attacks would start with video of a plane flying into the South Tower, or people falling from the top floors of the nearly 110-story buildings, or the towers collapsing, becoming clouds of debris that chased survivors through the streets of Manhattan, covering everything and everybody in its wake with toxic dust.
We overdosed on news.
We inhaled it, surfing channels looking for more. We heard the numbers so often we memorized them. Four planes carrying 265 passengers and crew, all dead.
More than 60 civilians and 50 military personnel killed in the Pentagon.
More than 2,600 dead in New York, including 71 law enforcement officers and 343 firefighters, and more dying every year to date from the consequences of the caustic dust.
As we learned within weeks of the attack, with four terrorists in the cockpit and the flight crew dead, the 37 passengers of Flight 93 formulated a plan and voted on it. Then they put their plan into action.
Because of their heroic efforts to retake the cockpit from the terrorists, the plane crashed in an empty field in Shanksville, Pa., away from the 235 residents of the tiny town, instead of the intended target in Washington, D.C.
And every anniversary, out comes the archived video and we can’t help but watch again. Year after year we relive the terror in real-time.
There are other ways to tell the story of 9/11 without making us relive it every anniversary.
Instead of using footage from the attacks, tell us about the heroes.
The stories of the heroes that emerged from the darkness should be the first rays of light in this shared tragedy.
Heroes renew our faith in humanity, and make us wonder what we might do under the same circumstances.
An Akron woman has been talking about some of the heroes for nearly 15 years.
Interior designer Sharon Deitrick founded 93 Cents for Flight 93 as part of the HALO (Hope Always Lives On) Foundation, a non-profit.
Deitrick uses the unintentional heroes on the fourth plane, United Flight 93, to tell the story of 9/11 to high school and middle school students.
Deitrick invites family of some of the passengers to talk to smaller groups of students, so the students can learn about the passengers as people and not just statistics.
And Deitrick emphasizes the lesson that ordinary people can do incredible things.
Once students learn the story, Deitrick gives them the task of not only passing it along, but putting the lessons learned into action through community service.
On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., I choose to think of the ordinary people who stopped four evil men from killing hundreds more innocents, instead of watching footage of the terrorists bombing buildings with airliners filled with people.
I choose to think of the heroes who ascended the North Tower even after the South Tower fell, who rose from the ashes of a plane that crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa.
There is a difference between not forgetting and being forced to relive a tragic event.
I choose not to forget the heroes of 9/11.
I choose not to relive the attacks.