I am truly honored to share my thoughts and reflections with you today, Patriot’s Day.  It is crucial to remember the tragic events that happened on September 11, 2001, but more importantly, to learn from that fateful day.

Every year, I try to focus on a theme.  This year my article comes from the title of a workshop I attended at the International Order of The King’s Daughters & Sons’ 2019 Annual Conference in Nashville, TN.  The Order’s historian, Sue Buck, OH, led the workshop, titled, “History Matters.”  To put this workshop’s importance into perspective, this Order, of which I am a third-generation member, has a very storied history, as it is an international and inter-denominational Christian service organization. Founded in New York City in 1886 by Margaret Bottome, the organization’s objective is to develop spiritual life and stimulate Christian activities.  Sue’s focus for the workshop was for the Order’s Circles and Branches to be thinking about historic preservation of artifacts and possible ways to accomplish that critical task despite storage space limitations at the Order’s Museum located on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution.  To give us an example of a historical and thought-provoking artifact, she told us, “a watch owned by a passenger on Flight 93 is on display at the September 11 Memorial and Museum. The watch’s face was forever frozen inscribing the date and time of the event.”  She ended her watch example by telling us, “It can tell the entire event’s story without using any words.”  An informational handout had this to say about the importance of history and historical preservation:

“History is important because it connects us to specific times, places, and events that were significant milestones in our past.”  “Through historic preservation, we look at history in different ways, ask different questions of the past, and learn new things about our history and ourselves.  Historic preservation is an important way for us to transmit our understanding of the past to future generations.”

My take away from the workshop was exactly what she named it, “History Matters.”   And, we must preserve it, and we must remember it.  I appreciate Sue permitting me to use her title and a few of her quotes.

History matters:  We need to remember:

  • the 2,977 people who lost their lives and the over 6,000 people who sustained injuries
  • the 3,000 children who lost a parent that day
  • the eight children who lost their lives in the aircraft crashes…three of which were outstanding, essay-winning 6th graders chosen to go on a field trip to the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary sponsored by the National Geographic accompanied by three dedicated teachers and two staff members from the National Geographic
  • the 1,400 first responders who have since died from health complications stemming from their heroic work at Ground Zero…the Twin Towers.
  • the help our Nation received from countries abroad
  • the two iconic flag pictures
    • one being raised in the World Trade Centers’ rubble by the three firemen (George Johnson, Dan McWilliams, and Billy Eisengrein; the photo was taken by photographer Thomas E. Franklin, working for a northern New Jersey paper, The Record.)
    • the other was draped down the Pentagon’s side by eight firefighters and saluted by four military members. Simultaneously, music played. (Petty Officer First Class Michael Pendergrass took the picture), who just happened to be at the wrong place and the right time.
  • by visiting the 9-11 memorials
    • you’ll see the historical artifacts preserved at the museum and the 184 benches placed along the route taken by Flight 77 as it crashed into the Pentagon…from the youngest 3 yr old to the oldest 71 yr.
  • What makes America great? We can rally around the flag pole to remember we are One Nation Under God, indivisible…no matter what happens.
  • That as a Nation, we dig in and rebuild
  • That we pledge allegiance to our flag and use our gifts and talents to support our Nation.

I’m proud to be an everyday patriot…who thinks “History Matters.”

Cathy Duncan, Lt Col, USAF (Retired)

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