I could not have been more disappointed Wednesday to see the lack of support and patriotism across Lincoln County and the surrounding region for the anniversary of Sept. 11.
The day seemed to come and go, in the blink of an eye, with no indicators that a little more than a decade ago our nation found itself coping with chaos, confusion and death at an unprecedented level.
As I stood waiting outside the Lincoln County courthouse that morning in anticipation of a scheduled 9/11 remembrance ceremony, it became clear to me that September 2013 and September 2001 existed worlds apart.
Nearly 30 minutes after the ceremony was set to start, only four people had flocked to the courthouse.
Each person was dressed patriotically — one woman was holding a small American flag. Hopeful more people would come, we waited together.
Instead, the wait grew longer as more people drifted in and out of Court Street Grille and Fausto Coffee and cars circled Court Square. It became clear that no one else was coming.
A friend later joked that perhaps more people would have attended if event officials had handed out free iPhones. His joke revealed a sad reality.
My mind flashed back 12 years, to the small physical science classroom I was sitting in as a high school freshman when our head of school popped his head in and announced in a soft, somber tone that our country had been attacked.
I remember filing down the hallway with confused friends — some crying — to a school-wide assembly where hundreds of other students and teachers sat with blank stares, watching the footage of the attacks over and over and over. I think each time we watched we secretly hoped for a different outcome.
In the days that followed the attacks, the skies were silent as planes stayed grounded. Churches witnessed a rise in Sunday attendance as individuals lined the backs of sanctuaries, willing to stand through an hour-long service just to hear some semblance of hope.
Every home along with city and county buildings proudly displayed an American flag, and vehicles maintained various bumper stickers with patriotic slogans such as “United We Stand” and “These Colors Don’t Run.”
Individuals were also eager at the drop of a hat to shake hands or salute every first-responder they encountered — firefighter, police officer, soldier.
There was a bond among American citizens regardless of race, religion, socio-economic status and sexuality.
However, my mind quickly flashed forward to the present — to a day devoid of much-needed patriotism and prayer.
Not only had I failed during my 40-minute commute to work to hear any sort of patriotic song or mention of it being the anniversary of 9/11 on the radio but I also failed to see additional flags or signs erected around town.
The only proof I had of it being Sept. 11 this week were a couple flags I witnessed waving at half-staff.
While Lincoln County may have forgotten Wednesday’s significance — because the attacks are too far in the past to rehash or that chapter of American history was closed with Osama bin Laden’s death — many across the nation didn’t forget, and for another year mourned the loss of loved ones, including the thousands of soldiers who went to war in the days, months and years that followed.