LAFAYETTE (KPIX 5) — In the Bay Area and across the country Wednesday, there were ceremonies of differing sizes to honor the memory of those who perished in the 9/11 attacks 18 years ago. But things are beginning to change and some are asking if we are starting to forget.
On every 9/11 since the day the attack happened, people driving under the Curtola overpass on Highway 24 have been greeted by flags. The display is put there each year by a dedicated group of volunteers who vow, as many have, that they will never forget what happened that day.
“I don’t know, I think we have to reinforce people’s memories,” said volunteer William Hahn. “I think people have a tendency to forget over time.”
The original display lasted everyday for weeks and then became a monthly affair, featuring artifacts and a fly-over. But eventually, it settled into an annual observance and that’s how it stayed. But now, in places, like Union City, even that has gone away.
The city announced that it was abandoning the yearly ceremony at its Flight 93 Memorial, instead holding it every five years.
“Like, we don’t have the money for it? I highly doubt we don’t, you know,” said Union City resident Brandon Edwards.
It used to be a solemn ceremony, with a color guard, speeches and the placing of roses on each victim’s stone. Wednesday, the roses were there, but the park was empty, except for Edwards who brought his young son for the first time.
The whole thing has him wondering, “Are we forgetting? Or what’s the purpose of doing that?”
“We should have one for the respect of the people and for 9/11…every single year and remember them.”
In Lafayette, residents haven’t forgotten, but the volunteers have thinned out and the flag display has been simplified. And the event’s founder, James Minder, says while he wants people to remember, he’s not really surprised that the feeling has diminished.
“It’s just normal,” he said. “In fact, someone drove past and said, ‘What are the flags for, for what now?’ 9/11. ‘Oh yeah…’ So, some people, they definitely have forgotten.”
Organizers say it’s OK that people aren’t still grieving over 9/11–after all, an entire generation has been born that never experienced it. But they say it is important to remember the lesson of 9/11, which is to never let your guard down again.
And there was one more sign of the country’s changing attitude about 9/11. On Wednesday, the front page of the New York Times had no mention of 9/11 at all.