How to Remember 9/11

On the eve of the eighth anniversary, columnists say there's a right -- and a wrong -- way to commemorate the attacks

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Thanks to Congress, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, and President Obama, the eighth anniversary of 9/11 will be officially marked with a national day of service and remembrance. In an emotional array of opinions, columnists say there are other, more important ways to remember that September day.

  • No Better Way To Remember Than a Call To Service, says Laurie Tisch in the Huffington Post. “I can't imagine a more appropriate manner in which to observe this solemn anniversary and honor the memory of Sen. Kennedy, while at the same time demonstrating both our individual and collective resolve and commitment to a strong, vital future than through service.”

  • Revenge, Richard Cohen cries. “Bring me the head of Osama bin Laden.” Cohen seems surprised, and saddened even by his thirst for retribution. “Revenge does not seem a fit subject for a column, or a columnist,” he writes. “It is revolting.” But he is unrepentant as well. “The people who died on 9/11 cannot simply be dismissed, erased -- as if they had not been killed in a huge crime,” he says. ”The killers of Americans ought to pay for what they've done. It is good foreign policy.”

  • Give the Victims the Health Care They Deserve, says Marie Cocco at The Washington Post. “Pass the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act,” she writes. The victims and heroes of September 11, she says, continue to face health problems — and soaring medical bills — directly related to the attacks.

For eight years, even as tens of thousands have come to its hospitals and clinics with illnesses related to their exposure to the toxic concoction of burning jet fuel, asbestos and other environmental hazards borne in the dust that settled over homes, storefronts and offices in Lower Manhattan, New York has been left to cope mostly on its own.


    Win in Afghanistan, says Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. “It was the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan that laid much of the imaginative groundwork for 9/11,” he argues. “This is not the noblest fight, and no sane nation would wage it by choice. But we did not choose it and, if we keep our nerve, we can win it. Otherwise, the consequence will be ashes flying again in our own streets, something to remember on the eve of another 9/11 anniversary.”

How Not to Remember 9/11

  • Don’t Politicize September 11, says John Avlon at The Daily Beast. He says the Bush administration, “politicized what was and should have remained a day of national unity and resolve, turning it into a partisan invective and an excuse for an unrelated war.”

  • No Sleazy 9/11 Stories From the Media, Jack Shafer pleads. “The anniversary story is, in almost all instances, a media scam designed to exploit audiences by reviving memories—usually painful ones—to sell newspapers or boost ratings.” He says that, “in its most naked form, the anniversary article makes no attempt to advance the story or deepen the collective understanding of the selected anniversary event.”

  • Dear President Obama, Don’t Relegate 9/11 to a Talking Point, says Kathryn Lopez on Twitter. “I'm still somewhat flabbergasted that the president would actually relegate the war on terror to a talking point two days before the anniversary.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.